EDINBURGH: Printed for A. MILLAR, London; AND A. KINCAID & J. BELL, Edinburgh. MDCCLXII.



COMPARISONS, as observed a­bove*, serve two different pur­poses: When addressed to the un­derstanding, their purpose is to instruct; when to the heart, their purpose is to give pleasure. With respect to the latter, a comparison may be employ'd to produce various pleasures by different means. First, by suggesting some unusual [Page 4] resemblance or contrast: second, by set­ting an object in the strongest light: third, by associating an object with others that are agreeable: fourth, by elevating an object: and, fifth, by depressing it. And that comparisons may produce various pleasures by these different means, appears from what is said in the chapter above cited; and will be made still more evident by examples, which shall be given after premising some general observations.

An object of one sense cannot be compa­red to an object of another; for such ob­jects are totally separated from each other, and have no circumstance in common to admit either resemblance or contrast. Ob­jects of hearing may be compared, as also of taste, and of touch. But the chief fund of comparison are objects of sight; because, in writing or speaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of visible objects are by far more lively than those of any other sense.

It has no good effect to compare things by way of simile that are of the same kind, nor to contrast things of different kinds. [Page 5] The reason is given in the chapter cited a­bove; and the reason shall be illustrated by examples. The first is a resemblance in­stituted betwixt two objects so nearly rela­ted as to make little or no impression.

This just rebuke inflam'd the Lycian crew,
They join, they thicken, and th' assault renew;
Unmov'd th'embody'd Greeks their fury dare,
And fix'd support the weight of all the war;
Nor could the Greeks repel the Lycian pow'rs,
Nor the bold Lycians force the Grecian tow'rs.
As on the confines of adjoining grounds,
Two stubborn swains with blows dispute their bounds;
They tugg, they sweat; but neither gain, nor yield,
One foot, one inch, of the contended field:
Thus obstinate to death, they fight, they fall;
Nor these can keep, nor those can win the wall.
Iliad, xii. 505.

Another from Milton labours under the same defect. Speaking of the fallen angels searching for mines of gold:

A numerous brigade hasten'd: as when bands
Of pioneers with spade and pick-ax arm'd
[Page 6] Forerun the royal camp to trench a field
Or cast a rampart.

The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds.

What, is my Richard both in shape and mind
Transform'd and weak? Hath Bolingbroke de­pos'd
Thine intellect? Hath he been in thy heart?
The lion, dying, thrusteth forth his paw,
And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage
To be o'erpower'd: and wilt thou, pupil-like,
Take thy correction mildly, kiss the rod,
And fawn on rage with base humility?
Richard II. act 5. sc. 1.

This comparison has scarce any force. A man and a lion are of different species; and there is no such resemblance betwixt them in general, as to produce any strong effect by contrasting particular attributes or cir­cumstances.

A third general observation is, That ab­stract terms can never be the subject of com­parison, otherwise than by being personified. [Page 7] Shakespear compares adversity to a toad, and slander to the bite of a crocodile; but in such comparisons these abstract terms must be imagined sensible beings.

I now proceed to illustrate by particular instances the different means by which comparison can afford pleasure; and, in the order above established, I shall begin with those instances that are agreeable by suggesting some unusual resemblance or contrast:

Sweet are the uses of Adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in her head.
As you like it, act 2. sc. 1.

Bolingbroke hath seiz'd the wasteful King.
What pity is't that he had not so trimm'd
And dress'd his land, as we this garden dress,
And wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees;
Lest, being over proud with sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself.
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have liv'd to bear, and he to taste
Their fruits of duty. All superfluous branches
[Page 8] We lop away, that bearing boughs may live:
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste and idle hours have quite thrown down.
Richard II. act 3. sc. 7.

See, how the Morning opes her golden gates,
And takes her farewell of the glorious sun;
How well resembles it the prime of youth,
Trim'd like a yonker prancing to his love.
Second Part Henry VI. act 2. sc. 1.

O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
That carries anger as the flint bears fire;
Who, much inforced, shows a hasty spark,
And straight is cold again.
Julius Caesar, act 4. sc. 3.

Thus they their doubtful consulations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds,
Ascending, while the North-wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heav'n's chearful face, the lowring element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landscape, snow, and shower;
If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extend his ev'ning-beam, the fields revive,
[Page 9] The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
Paradise Lost, book 2.

The last exertion of courage compared to the blaze of a lamp before extinguishing, Tasso Gierusalem, canto 19. st. 22.

As the bright stars, and milky way,
Shew'd by the night, are hid by day:
So we in that accomplish'd mind,
Help'd by the night, new graces find,
Which, by the splendor of her view
Dazzled before, we never knew.

None of the foregoing similes, as it ap­pears to me, have the effect to add any lustre to the principal subject; and there­fore the pleasure they afford, must arise from suggesting resemblances that are not obvious: I mean the chief pleasure; for undoubtedly a beautiful subject introduced to form the simile affords a separate plea­sure, which is felt in the similes mentioned, particularly in that cited from Milton.

The next effect of a comparison in the [Page 10] order mentioned, is to place an object in a strong point of view; which I think is done sensibly in the following similes.

As when two scales are charg'd with doubtful loads,
From side to side the trembling balance nods,
(While some laborious matron, just and poor,
With nice exactness weighs her woolly store),
Till pois'd aloft, the resting beam suspends
Each equal weight; nor this nor that descends:
So stood the war, till Hector's matchless might,
With fates prevailing, turn'd the scale of fight.
Fierce as a whirlwind up the walls he flies,
And fires his host with loud repeated cries.
Iliad, b. xii. 521.

Ut flos in septis secretis nascitur hortis,
Ignotus pecori, nullo contusus aratro,
Quem mulcent aurae, firmat sol, educat imber,
Multi illum pueri, multae cupiere puellae.
Idem, cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui,
Nulli illum pueri, nullae cupiere puellae.
Sic virgo, dum intacta manet, dum cara suis; sed
Cum castum amisit, polluto corpore, florem,
Nec pueris jucunda maner, nec cara puellis.

[Page 11] The imitation of this beautiful simile by A­riosto, canto 1. st. 42. falls short of the ori­ginal. It is also in part imitated by Pope*.

I do not seek to quench your love's hot fire,
But qualify the fires extreme rage,
Lest it should burn above the bounds of reason.
The more thou damm'st it up, the more it burns:
The current, that with gentle murmur glides,
Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doth rage;
But when his fair course is not hindered,
He makes sweet music with th' enamel'd stones
Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage.
And so by many winding nooks he strays
With willing sport, to the wild ocean.
Then let me go, and hinder-not my course;
I'll be as patient as a gentle stream,
And make a pastime of each weary step
Till the last step have brought me to my love;
And there I'll rest, as, after much turmoil,
A blessed soul doth in Elysium.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, act
2. sc. 10.

[Page 12]
—She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' th' bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pin'd in thought;
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at Grief.
Twelfth-Night, act 2. sc. 6.

Then, as I said, the Duke, great Boling-broke,
Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed,
Which his aspiring rider seem'd to know,
With slow but stately pace, kept on his course:
While all tongues cry'd, God save thee, Boling-broke.
Alas! poor Richard, where rides he the while?
As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
After a well-grac'd actor leaves the stage,
Are idly bent on him that enters next,
Thinking his prattle to be tedious:
Even so, or with much more contempt, mens eyes
Did scowl on Richard; no man cry'd, God save him!
No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home;
But dust was thrown upon his sacred head;
Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off,
His face still combating with tears and smiles,
[Page 13] The badges of his grief and patience;
That had not God, for some strong purpose, steel'd
The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted;
And barbarism itself have pitied him.
Richard II. act 5. sc. 3.

How doth my son and bro­ther?
Thou tremblest, and the whiteness in thy cheek
Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand.
Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
So dull, so dead in look, so wo-be-gone,
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,
And would have told him, half his Troy was burn'd;
But Priam found the fire, ere he his tongue:
And I my Percy's death, ere thou report'st it.
Second Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 3.

Why, then I do but dream on sov'reignty,
Like one that stands upon a promontory,
And spies a far-off shore where he would tread,
Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
And chides the sea that sunders him from thence,
Saying, he'll lave it dry to have his way:
So do I wish, the crown being so far off,
And so I chide the means that keep me from it,
[Page 14] And so (I say) I'll cut the causes off,
Flatt'ring my mind with things impossible.
Third Part Henry VI. act 3. sc. 3.

—Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
Macbeth, act 5. sc. 5.

O thou Goddess,
Thou divine Nature! how thyself thou blazon'st
In these two princely boys! they are as gentle
As zephyrs blowing below the violet,
Not wagging his sweet head; and yet as rough,
(Their royal blood inchaf'd) as the rud'st wind,
That by the top doth take the mountain-pine,
And make him stoop to th' vale.
Cymbeline, act 4. sc. 4.

The sight obtained of the city of Jerusalem by the Christian army, compared to that of land discovered after a long voyage, Tasso's Gierusalem, canto 3. st. 4. The fury of Ri­naldo subsiding when not opposed, to that of wind or water when it has a free passage, canto 20. st. 58.

[Page 15] As words convey but a faint and obscure notion of great numbers, a poet, to give a high notion of the object he describes with regard to number, does well to compare it to what is familiar and commonly known. Thus Homer* compares the Grecian army in point of number to a swarm of bees. In another passage he compares it to that profusion of leaves and flowers which appear in the spring, or of insects in a summer's evening. And Milton,

—As when the potent rod
Of Amram's son in Egypt's evil day
Wav'd round the coast, up call'd a pitchy cloud
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
Like night, and darken'd all the land of Nile:
So numberless were those bad angels seen,
Hovering on wing under the cope of hell,
'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires.
Paradise Lost, book 1.

Such comparisons have, by some wri­ters, been condemned for the lowness of [Page 16] the images introduced: but surely without reason; for, with regard to numbers, they put the principal subject in a strong light.

The foregoing comparisons operate by resemblance; others have the same effect by contrast:

I am the last of Noble Edward's sons,
Of whom thy father, Prince of Wales, was first;
In war, was never lion rag'd more fierce;
In peace, was never gentle lamb more mild;
Than was that young and princely gentleman.
His face thou hast; for even so look'd he,
Accomplish'd with the number of thy hours.
But when he frown'd, it was against the French,
And not against his friends. His noble hand
Did win what he did spend; and spent not that
Which his triumphant father's hand had won.
His hands were guilty of no kindred's blood,
But bloody with the enemies of his kin.
Oh, Richard! York is too far gone with grief,
Or else he never would compare between.
Richard II. act 2. sc. 3.

Milton has a peculiar talent in embellish­ing the principal subject by associating it with others that are agreeable, which is [Page 17] the third end of a comparison. Similes of this kind have, beside, a separate effect: they diversify the narration by new images that are not strictly necessary to the comparison: they are short episodes, which, without distracting us from the principal subject, af­ford great delight by their beauty and va­riety:

He scarce had ceas'd, when the superior fiend
Was moving toward the shore; his pond'rous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At ev'ning from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.
Milton, b. 1.

—Thus far these, beyond
Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ'd
Their dread commander. He, above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tow'r; his form had yet not lost
All her original brightness, nor appear'd
Less than arch-angel ruin'd, and th' excess
Of glory obscur'd: as when the sun new-risen
[Page 18] Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs.
Milton, b. 1.

As when a vulture on Imaus bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
To gorge the flesh of lambs, or yeanling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs
Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams,
But in his way lights on the barren plains
Of Sericana, where Chineses drive
With sails and wind their cany waggons light:
So on this windy sea of land, the fiend
Walk'd up and down alone, bent on his prey.
Milton, b. 3.

—Yet higher than their tops
The verdurous wall of Paradise up sprung:
Which to our general sire gave prospect large
Into this nether empire neighbouring round.
And higher than that wall, a circling row
Of goodliest trees loaden with fairest fruit,
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,
Appear'd, with gay enamel'd colours mix'd,
[Page 19] On which the sun more glad impress'd his beams
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God hath show'r'd the earth; so lovely seem'd
That landscape: and of pure now purer air
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness but despair: now gentle gales
Fanning their odoriferous wings dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambic, off at sea North-east winds blow
Sabean odour from the spicy shore
Of Arabie the Blest; with such delay
Well pleas'd they slack their course, and many a league,
Chear'd with the grateful smell, old Ocean smiles,
Milton, b. 4.

With regard to similes of this kind, it will readily occur to the reader, that when the re­sembling subject or circumstance is once pro­perly introduced in a simile, the mind passes easily to the new objects, and is transitorily amused with them, without feeling any dis­gust at the slight interruption. Thus, in fine weather, the momentary excursions of [Page 20] a traveller for agreeable prospects or sump­tuous buildings, chear his mind, relieve him from the langour of uniformity, and without much lengthening his journey in reality, shorten it greatly in appearance.

Next of comparisons that aggrandize or elevate. These make stronger impressions than any other sort; the reason of which may be gathered from the chapter of grandeur and sublimity, and, without rea­soning, will be evident from the following instances.

As when a flame the winding valley fills,
And runs on crackling shrubs between the hills,
Then o'er the stubble up the mountain flies,
Fires the high woods, and blazes to the skies,
This way and that, the spreading torrent roars;
So sweeps the hero through the wasted shores.
Arou [...]d him wide, immense destruction pours,
And earth is delug'd with the [...]anguine show'rs.
Iliad xx. 569.

Through blood, through death, Achilles still pro­ceeds,
O'er slaughter'd heroes, and o'er rolling steeds.
[Page 21] As when avenging flames with fury driv'n
On guilty towns exert the wrath of Heav'n,
The pale inhabitants, some fall, some fly,
And the red vapours purple all the sky.
So rag'd Achilles: Death, and dire dismay,
And toils, and terrors, fill'd the dreadful day.
Iliad xxi. 605.

Methinks, King Richard and myself should meet
With no less terror than the elements
Of fire and water, when their thund'ring shock,
At meeting tears the cloudy cheeks of heaven.
Richard II. act. 3. sc. 5.

I beg peculiar attention to the following si­mile, for a reason that shall be mentioned.

Thus breathing death, in terrible array,
The close-compacted legions urg'd their way:
Fierce they drove on, impatient to destroy;
Troy charg'd the first, and Hector first of Troy.
As from some mountain's craggy forehead torn,
A rock's round fragment flies with fury born,
(Which from the stubborn stone a torrent rends)
Precipitate the pond'rous mass descends:
From steep to steep the rolling ruin bounds;
At every shock the crackling wood resounds;
Still gath'ring force, it smoaks; and urg'd amain,
Whirls, leaps, and thunders down, impetuous to the plain:
[Page 22] There stops—So Hector. Their whole force he prov'd,
Resistless when he rag'd; and when he stopt, un­mov'd.
Iliad xiii. 187.

The image of a falling rock is certainly not elevating*. Yet undoubtedly the forego­ing image fires and swells the mind. It is grand therefore, if not sublime. And that there is a real, though delicate distinction, betwixt these two feelings, will be illustra­ted from the following simile.

So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell
On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield
Such ruin intercept. Ten paces huge
He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstaid; as if on earth
Winds under ground or waters forcing way
Sidelong had push'd a mountain from his seat
Half sunk with all pines.
Milton, b. 6.

[Page 23] A comparison by contrast may contribute to grandeur or elevation, not less than by resemblance; of which the following com­parison of Lucan is a remarkable instance. ‘Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.’ Considering that the Heathen deities pos­sessed a rank but one degree above that of mankind, I think it scarce possible, by a single expression, to elevate or dignify more one of the human species, than is done by this comparison. I am sensi­ble, at the same time, that such a compa­rison among Christians, who entertain juster notions of the Deity, would justly be rec­koned extravagant and absurd.

The last article mentioned, is that of lessening or depressing a hated or disagree­able object; which is effectually done by resembling it to any thing that is low or de­spicable. Thus Milton, in his description of the rout of the rebel-angels, happily expresses their terror and dismay in the following simile.

[Page 24]
—As a herd
Of goats or timorous flock together throng'd
Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursu'd
With terrors and with furies to the bounds
And crystal wall of heav'n, which op'ning wide,
Rowl'd inward, and a spacious gap disclos'd
Into the wasteful deep; the monstrous sight
Strook them with horror backward, but far worse
Urg'd them behind; headlong themselves they threw
Down from the verge of heav'n.
Milton, b. 6.

In the same view, Homer, I think, may be defended, in comparing the shouts of the Trojans in battle, to the noise of cranes*, and to the bleating of a flock of sheep: and it is no objection, that these are low i­mages; for by opposing the noisy march of the Trojans to the silent and manly march of the Greeks, he certainly intended to lessen the former. Addison, imagining the figure that men make in the sight of a superior being, takes opportunity to mor­tify [Page 25] their pride by comparing them to a swarm of pismires.

A comparison that has none of the good effects mentioned in this discourse, but is built upon common and trifling circumstan­ces, makes a mighty silly figure: ‘"Non sum nescius, grandia consilia a multis plerumque causis, ceu magna navigia a plurimis remis, impelli*."’

By this time I imagine the different pur­poses of comparison, and the various im­pressions it makes on the mind, are suffi­ciently illustrated by proper examples. This was an easy work. It is more difficult to lay down rules about the propriety or impro­priety of comparisons; in what circumstances they may be introduced, and in what circum­stances they are out of place. It is evident, that a comparison is not proper upon every occasion; a man in his cool and sedate moments, is not disposed to poetical flights, nor to sacrifice truth and reality to the delu­sive operations of the imagination; far less is he so disposed, when oppressed with cares, or interested in some important transaction [Page 26] that occupies him totally. The region of comparison and of all figurative expression, lies betwixt these two extremes. It is ob­servable, that a man, when elevated or ani­mated by any passion, is disposed to elevate or animate all his objects: he avoids familiar names, exalts objects by circumlocution and metaphor, and gives even life and voluntary action to inanimate beings. In this warmth of mind, the highest poetical flights are in­dulged, and the boldest similes and meta­phors relished*. But without soaring so high, the mind is frequently in a tone to relish chaste and moderate ornament; such as comparisons that set the principal object in a strong point of view, or that embellish and diversify the narration. In general, when by any animating passion, whether pleasant or painful, an impulse is given to the imagination; we are in that condition wonderfully disposed to every sort of figu­rative expression, and in particular to com­parisons. [Page 27] This in a great measure is evident from the comparisons already mentioned; and shall be further illustrated by other ex­amples. Love, for example, in its infancy, rousing the imagination, prompts the heart to display itself in figurative language, and in similes:

Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne's love,
What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we?
Her bed is India, there she lies, a pearl:
Between our Ilium, and where she resides,
Let it be call'd the wild and wandering flood;
Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar
Our doubtful hope, our convoy, and our bark.
Troilus and Cressida, act 1. sc. 1.


Come, gentle Night; come, loving black-brow'd Night!
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him, and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heav'n so fine,
That all the world shall be in love with Night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Romeo and Juliet, act 3. sc. 4.

[Page 28] The dread of a misfortune, however immi­nent, involving always some doubt and un­certainty, agitates the mind, and excites the imagination:

—Nay, then, farewell;
I've touch'd the highest point of all my greatness,
And from that full meridian of my glory
I haste now to my setting. I shall fall,
Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more.
Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 4.

But it will be a better illustration of the present head, to give examples where com­parisons are improperly introduced. I have had already occasion to observe, that similes are not the language of a man in his ordinary state of mind, going about the common affairs of life. For that reason, the follow­ing speech of a gardiner to his servants, is extremely improper.

Go bind thou up you dangling apricocks
Which, like unruly children, make their sire
Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight:
Give some supportance to the bending twigs.
Go thou, and like an executioner,
[Page 29] Cut off the heads of too-fast-growing sprays,
That look too lofty in our commonwealth:
All must be even in our government.
Richara II. act 3. sc. 7.

The fertility of Shakespear's vein betrays him frequently into this error. There is the same impropriety in another simile of his:

Good Margaret, run thee into the par­lour;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice;
Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse
Is all of her; say, that thou overheard'st us:
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honeysuckles, ripen'd by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter; like to favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred it.
Much ado about nothing, act 3. sc. 1.

Rooted grief, deep anguish, terror, remorse, despair, and all the severe dispiriting passions, are declared enemies, perhaps not to figura­tive language in general, but undoubtedly to the pomp and solemnity of comparison. [Page 30] Upon this account the simile pronounced by young Rutland under terror of death from an inveterate enemy, and praying mercy, is unnatural:

So looks the pent-up lion o'er the wretch
That trembles under his devouring paws;
And so he walks insulting o'er his prey,
And so he comes to rend his limbs asunder.
Ah, gentle Clifford, kill me with thy sword,
And not with such a cruel threat'ning-look.
Third part Henry VI. act 1. sc. 5.

Nothing appears more out of place, or more aukwardly introduced, than the fol­lowing simile.

—Farewell, my Portius,
Farewell, though death is in the word, for-ever!
Stay, Lucia, stay; what dost thou say, for-ever?
Have I not sworn? If, Portius, thy suc­cess
Must throw thy brother on his fate, farewell:
Oh, how shall I repeat the word for-ever!
Thus, o'er the dying lamp th' unsteady flame
Hangs quivering on a point, leaps off by fits,
And falls again, as loath to quit its hold.
[Page 31] —Thou must not go, my soul still hovers o'er thee,
And can't get loose.
Cato, act 3. sc. 2.

Nor doth the simile which closes the first act of the same tragedy, make its appearance with a much better grace; the situation there represented, being too dispiriting for a simile. A simile is improper for one who dreads the discovery of a secret machina­tion.

The mute not yet return'd! Ha! 'twas the King,
The King that parted hence! frowning he went;
His eyes like meteors roll'd, then darted down
Their red and angry beams; as if his sight
Would, like the raging Dog-star, scorch the earth,
And kindle ruin in its course.
Mourning Bride, act 5. sc. 3.

A man spent and dispirited after losing a battle, is not disposed to heighten or illu­strate his discourse by similes:

With this we charg'd again; but out! alas,
We bodg'd again; as I have seen a swan
[Page 32] With bootless labour swim against the tide,
And spend her strength with over-matching waves.
Ah! hark, the fatal followers do pursue.
And I am faint and cannot fly their fury.
The sands are number'd that make up my life;
Here must I stay, and here my life must end.
Third part Henry VI. act 1. sc. 6.

Far less is a man disposed to similes who is not only defeated in a pitch'd battle, but lies at the point of death mortally wounded.

—My mangled body shews,
My blood, my want of strength, my sick heart shews,
That I must yield my body to the earth,
And, by my fall, the conquest to my foe.
Thus yields the cedar to the ax's edge,
Whose arms gave shelter to the princely eagle;
Under whose shade the ramping lion slept,
Whose top-branch overpeer'd Jove's spreading tree,
And kept low shrubs from winter's pow'rful wind.
Third part Henry VI. act 5. sc. 3.

Queen Katharine, deserted by the King and in the deepest affliction upon her divorce, could not be disposed to any sallies of ima­gination: and for that reason, the fol­lowing [Page 33] simile, however beautiful in the mouth of a spectator, is scarce proper in her own.

I am the most unhappy woman living,
Shipwreck'd upon a kingdom, where no pity,
No friends, no hope! no kindred weep for me!
Almost no grave allowed me! like the lily,
That once was mistress of the field, and flourish'd,
I'll hang my head and perish.
King Henry VIII. act. 3. sc. 1.

Similes thus unseasonably introduced, are finely ridiculed in the Rehearsal:


Now here she must make a simile.


Where's the necessity of that, Mr Bayes?


Because she's surpris'd; that's a general rule; you must ever make a simile when you are surprised; 'tis a new way of writing.

A comparison is not always faultless, even where it is properly introduced. I have endeavoured above to give a general view of the different ends to which a comparison may contribute. A comparison, like other human productions, may fall short of its end; and of this defect instances are not [Page 34] rare even among good writers. To com­plete the present subject, it will be necessa­ry to make some observations upon such faulty comparisons. I begin with observing, that nothing can be more erroneous than to institute a comparison too faint: a distant resemblance or contrast, fatigues the mind with its obscurity instead of amusing it, and tends not to fulfil any one end of a com­parison. The following similes seem to la­bour under this defect:

Albus ut obscuro deterget nubila coelo
Saepe Notus, neque parturit imbres
Perpetuos: sic tu sapiens finire memento
Tristitiam vitaeque labores
Molli, Plance, mero.
Horace, Carm. l. 1. ode 7.

—Medio dux agmine Turnus
Vertitur arma tenens, et toto vertice supra est.
Ceu septem surgens sedatis amnibus altus
Per tacitum Ganges: aut pingui flumine Nilus
Cum refluit campis, et jam se condidit alveo.
Aeneid ix. 28.

Talibus orabat, talesque miserrima fletus
Fertque refertque soror: sed nullus ille movetur
[Page 35] Fletibus, aut voces ullas tractabilis audit.
Fata obstant: placidasque viri Deus obstruit aures.
Ac veluti annoso validam cum robore quercum
Alpini Boreae, nunc hinc, nunc flatibus illinc
Eruere inter se certant; it stridor; et alte
Consternunt terram concusso stipite frondes:
Ipsa haeret scopulis: et quantum vertice ad auras
Aethereas, tantum radice in tartara tendit.
Haud secus assiduis hinc atque hinc vocibus heros
Tunditur, et magno persentit pectore curas:
Mens immota manet, lacrymae volvuntur inanes.
Aeneid iv. 437.

K. Rich.
Give me the crown.—Here, cousin, seize the crown,
Here, on this side, my hand; on that side, thine.
Now is this golden crown like a deep well,
That owes two buckets, filling one another;
The emptier ever dancing in the air,
The other down, unseen and full of water;
That bucket down, and full of tears, am I;
Drinking my griefs, whilst you mount up on high.
Richard II. act 4. sc. 3.

King John.
Oh! Cousin, thou art come to set mine eye;
The tackle of my heart is crack'd and burnt;
[Page 36] And all the shrowds wherewith my life should sail,
Are turned to one thread, one little hair:
My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
Which holds but till thy news be uttered.
King John, act 5. sc. 10.

My uncles both are slain in rescuing me:
And all my followers, to the eager foe
Turn back, and fly like ships before the wind,
Or lambs pursu'd by hunger-starved wolves.
Third Part Henry VI. act. 1. sc. 6.

The latter of the two similes is good. The former, because of the faintness of the re­semblance, produces no good effect, and crowds the narration with an useless image.

The next error I shall mention is a capi­tal one. In an epic poem, or in any ele­vated subject, a writer ought to avoid rai­sing a simile upon a low image, which ne­ver fails to bring down the principal subject. In general, it is a rule, that a grand object ought never to be resembled to one that is diminutive, however delicate the resem­blance may be. It is the peculiar character [Page 37] of a grand object to fix the attention, and swell the mind: in this state, it is disagree­able to contract the mind to a minute ob­ject, however elegant. The resembling an object to one that is greater, has, on the contrary, a good effect, by raising or swell­ing the mind. One passes with satisfaction from a small to a great object; but cannot be drawn down, without reluctance, from great to small. Hence the following simi­les are faulty.

Meanwhile the troops beneath Patroculus' care,
Invade the Trojans, and commence the war.
As wasps, provok'd by children in their play,
Pour from their mansions by the broad high-way,
In swarms the guiltless traveller engage,
Whet all their stings, and call forth all their rage;
All rise in arms, and with a general cry
Assert their waxen domes, and buzzing progeny:
Thus from the tents the fervent legion swarms,
So loud their clamours, and so keen their arms.
Iliad xvi. 312.

So burns the vengeful hornet (soul all o'er)
Repuls'd in vain, and thirsty still of gore;
(Bold son of air and heat) on angry wings
Untam'd, untir'd, he turns, attacks and stings.
[Page 38] Fir'd with like ardour fierce Atrides flew,
And sent his soul with ev'ry lance he threw.
Iliad xvii. 642.

Instant ardentes Tyrii: pars ducere muros,
Molirique arcem, er manibus subvolvere saxa;
Pars aptare locum tecto, et concludere sulco.
Jura magistratusque legunt, sanctumque senatum.
Hic portus alii effodiunt: hic alta theatris
Fundamenta locant alii, immanesque columnas
Rupibus excidunt, scenis decora alta futuris.
Qualis apes aestate nova per florea rura
Exercet sub sole labor, cum gentis adultos
Educunt foetus, aut cum liquentia mella
Stipant [...]et dulci distendunt nectare cellas,
Aut onera accipiunt venientum, aut agmine facto
Ignavum fucos pecus a praesepibus arcent.
Fervet opus, redolentque thymo fragrantia mella.
Aeneid i. 427.

To describe bees gathering honey as resem­bling the builders of Carthage, would have a much better effect.

Tum vero Teucri incumbunt, et littore celsas
Deducunt toto naves: natat uncta carina;
Frondentesque ferunt remos, et robora sylvis
Infabricata, fugae studio.
Migrantes cernas, totaque ex urbe ruentes.
[Page 39] Ac veluti ingentem formicae farris acervum
Cum populant, hyemis memores, tectoque repo­nunt:
It nigrum campis agmen, praedamque per herbas
Convectant calle angusto: pars grandia trudunt
Obnixae frumenta humeris: pars agmina cogunt,
Castigantque moras: opere omnis semita fervet.
Aeneid. iv. 397.

The following simile has not any one beauty to recommend it. The subject is Amata the wife of King Latinus.

Tum vero infelix, ingentibus excita monstris,
Immensam sine more furit lymphata per urbem:
Ceu quondam torto volitans sub verbere turbo,
Quem pueri magno in gyro vacua atria circum
Intenti ludo exercent. Ille actus habena
Curvatis fertur spatiis: stupet inscia turba,
Impubesque manus, mirata volubile buxum:
Dant animos plagae. Non cursu segnior illo
Per medias urbes agitur, populosque feroces.
Aeneid. vii. 376.

This simile seems to border upon the bur­lesque.

An error opposite to the former, is the introducing a resembling image, so elevated [Page 40] or great as to bear no proportion to the principal subject. The remarkable dispari­ty betwixt them, being the most striking circumstance, seizes the mind, and never fails to depress the principal subject by con­trast, instead of raising it by resemblance: and if the disparity be exceeding great, the simile takes on an air of burlesque; nothing being more ridiculous than to force an ob­ject out of its proper rank in nature, by e­qualling it with one greatly superior or greatly inferior. This will be evident from the following comparisons.

Fervet opus, redolentque thymo fragrantia mella.
Ac veluti lentis Cyclopes fulmina massis
Cum properant: alii taurinis follibus auras
Accipiunt, redduntque: alii stridentia tingunt
Aera lacu: gemit impositis incudibus Aetna:
Illi inter sese magna vi brachia tollunt
In numerum; versantque tenaci forcipe ferrum.
Non aliter (si parva licet componere magnis)
Cecropias innatus apes amor urget habendi,
Munere quamque suo. Grandaevis oppida curae,
Et munire favos, et Daedala fingere tecta.
At fessae multâ referunt se nocte minores,
Crura thymo plenae: pascuntur et arbuta passim,
[Page 41] Et glaucas salices, casiamque crocumque rubentem,
Et pinguem tiliam, et ferrugineos hyacinthos.
Omnibus una quies operum, labor omnibus unus.
Georgic. iv. 169.

Tum Bitian ardentem oculis animisque frementem;
Non jaculo, neque enim jaculo vitam ille dedisset;
Sed magnum stridens contorta falarica venit
Fulminis acta modo, quam nec duo taurea terga,
Nec duplici squama lorica fidelis et auro
Sustinuit: collapsa ruunt immania membra:
Dat tellus gemitum, et clypeum super intonat in­gens.
Qualis in Euboico Baiarum littore quondam
Saxea pila cadit, magnis quam molibus ante
Constructam jaciunt ponto: sic illa ruinam
Prona trahit, penitusque vadis illisa recumbit:
Miscent se maria, et nigrae attolluntur arenae:
Tum sonitu Prochyta alta tremit, durumque cubile
Inarime Jovis imperiis imposta Typhoëo.
Aeneid. ix. 703.

Loud as a bull makes hill and valley ring,
So roar'd the lock when it releas'd the spring.
Odyssey xxi. 51.

Such a simile upon the simplest of all ac­tions, that of opening a lock, is pure bur­lesque.

[Page 42] A writer of delicacy will avoid draw­ing his comparisons from any image that is nauseous, ugly, or remarkably disagreeable: for however strong the resemblance may be, more will be lost than gained by such comparison. Therefore I cannot help con­demning, though with some reluctance, the following simile, or rather metaphor.

O thou fond many! with what loud applause
Did'st thou beat heav'n with blessing Bolingbroke
Before he was what thou wou'dst have him be?
And now being trimm'd up in thine own desires,
Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of him,
That thou provok'st thyself to cast him up.
And so, thou common dog, didst thou disgorge
Thy glutton bosom of the royal Richard,
And now thou wou'dst eat thy dead vomit up,
And howl'st to find it.
Second Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 6.

The strongest objection that can lie a­gainst a comparison, is, that it consists in words only, not in sense. Such false coin, or bastard wit, does extremely well in bur­lesque; but is far below the dignity of the epic, or of any serious composition:

[Page 43]
The noble sister of Poplicola,
The moon of Rome; chaste as the isicle
That's curdled by the frost from purest snow,
And hangs on Dian's temple.
Coriolanus, act 5. sc. 3.

There is evidently no resemblance betwixt an isicle and a woman, chaste or unchaste. But chastity is cold in a metaphorical sense, and an isicle is cold in a proper sense; and this verbal resemblance, in the hurry and glow of composing, has been thought a sufficient foundation for the simile. Such phantom similes are mere witticisms, which ought to have no quarter, except where purposely introduced to provoke laughter. Lucian, in his dissertation upon history, talking of a certain author, makes the following comparison, which is verbal merely.

This author's descriptions are so cold, that they surpass the Caspian snow, and all the ice of the north.

[Page 44] Virgil has not escaped this puerility:

—Galathaea thymo mihi dulcior Hyblae.
Bucol. vii. 37.

—Ego Sardois videar tibi amarior herbis.
Ibid. 41.

Gallo, cujus amor tantum mihi crescit in horas,
Quantum vere novo viridis se subjicit alnus.
Buccol. x. 73.

Nor Tasso, in his Aminta:

Picciola e' l'ape, e fa col picciol morso
Pur gravi, e pur moleste le ferite;
Ma, qual cosa é più picciola d'amore,
Se in ogni breve spatio entra, e s'asconde
In ogni breve spatio? hor, sotto a l'ombra
De le palpebre, hor trà minuti rivi
D'un biondo crine, hor dentro le pozzette,
Che forma un dolce riso in bella guancia;
E pur fá tanto grandi, e si mortali,
E cosi immedicabili le piaghe.
Act 2. sc. 1.

Nor Boileau, the chastest of all writers; and that even in his art of poetry:

[Page 45]
Ainsi tel autrefois, qu'on vit avec Faret
Charbonner de ses vers les murs d'un cabaret,
S'en va mal a' propos, d'une voix insolente,
Chanter du peuple He'breu la fuite triomphante,
Et poursuivant Moise au travers des déserts,
Court avec Pharaon se noyer dans les mers.
Chant. 1. l. 21.

—But for their spirits and souls
This word rebellion had froze them up
As fish are in a pond.
Second Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 3.

The pretty vaulting sea refus'd to drown me;
Knowing, that thou wou'dst have me drown'd on shore
With tears as salt as sea, through thy unkindness.
Second Part Henry VI. act 3. sc. 6.

Here there is no manner of resemblance but in the word drown; for there is no real resemblance betwixt being drown'd at sea, and dying of grief at land. But perhaps this sort of tinsel wit, may have a propriety in it, when used to express an affected, not a real, passion, which was the Queen's case.

[Page 46] Pope has several similes of the same stamp. I shall transcribe one or two from the Essay on Man, the gravest and most in­structive of all his performances.

And hence one master-passion in the breast,
Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
Epist. 2. l. 131.

And again, talking of this same ruling or master passion.

Nature its mother, Habit is its nurse;
Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse;
Reason itself but gives it edge and pow'r;
As heav'n's blest beam turns vinegar more sowr.
Ibid. l. 145.

Lord Bolingbroke, speaking of historians:

Where their sincerity as to fact is doubtful, we strike out truth by the confrontation of different accounts; as we strike out sparks of fire by the collision of flints and steel.

Let us vary the phrase a very little, and there will not remain a shadow of resem­blance. Thus, for example:

We discover truth by the confrontation of differ­ent [Page 47] accounts; as we strike out sparks of fire by the collision of flints and steel.

Racine makes Pyrrhus say to Andromaque,

Vaincu, chargé de fers, de regrets consumé,
Brulé de plus de feux que je n'en allumai,
Helas! fus-je jamais si cruel que vous l'etés?

And Orestes, in the same strain: ‘Que les Scythes sont moins cruels qu'Hermione.’

Similes of this kind put one in mind of a ludicrous French song:

Je croyois Janneton
Aussi douce que belle:
Je croyois Janneton
Plus douce qu'un mouton;
Helas! helas!
Elle est cent fois, mille fois, plus cruelle
Que n'est le tigre aux bois.


Helas! l'amour m'a pris,
Comme le chat fait la souris.

[Page 48] A vulgar Irish ballad begins thus:

I have as much love in store
As there's apples in Portmore.

Where the subject is burlesque or ludi­crous, such similes are far from being im­proper. Horace says pleasantly,

Quanquam tu levior cortice.
L. 3. ode 9.

And Shakespear, ‘In breaking oaths he's stronger than Hercules.’

And this leads me to observe, that be­side the foregoing comparisons, which are all serious, there is a species, the end and purpose of which is to excite gaiety or mirth. Take the following examples.

Falstaff, speaking to his page:

I do here walk before thee, like a sow that hath overwhelmed all her litter but one.

Second Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4.

I think he is not a pick-purse, nor a horse-steal­er; but for his verity in love, I do think him as [Page 49] concave as a cover'd goblet, or a worm-eaten nut.

As you like it, act 3. sc. 10.

This sword a dagger had his page,
That was but little for his age;
And therefore waited on him so
As dwarfs upon knights-errant do.
Hudibras, canto 1.

Description of Hudibras's horse:

He was well stay'd, and in his gait
Preserv'd a grave, majestic state.
At spur or switch no more he skipt,
Or mended pace, than Spaniard whipt:
And yet so fiery he would bound,
As if he griev'd to touch the ground:
That Caesar's horse, who, as fame goes,
Had corns upon his feet and toes,
Was not by half so tender hooft,
Nor trod upon the ground so soft.
And as that beast would kneel and stoop,
(Some write) to take his rider up;
So Hudibras his ('tis well known)
Would often do, to set him down.
Canto 1.

Honour is, like a widow, won
With brisk attempt and putting on,
[Page 50] With entering manfully, and urging;
Not slow approaches, like a virgin.
Canto 1.

The sun had long since in the lap
Of Thetis taken out his nap;
And, like a lobster boil'd, the morn
From black to red began to turn.
Part 2. canto 2.

Books, like men, their authors, have but one way of coming into the world; but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no more.

Tale of a Tub.

And in this the world may perceive the differ­ence between the integrity of a generous author, and that of a common friend. The latter is ob­served to adhere close in prosperity, but on the decline of fortune, to drop suddenly off: whereas the generous author, just on the contrary, finds his hero on the dunghill, from thence by gradual steps raises him to a throne, and then immediately withdraws, expecting not so much as thanks for his pains.

Tale of a Tub.

The most accomplish'd way of using books at present is, to serve them as some do lords, learn [Page 51] their titles, and then brag of their acquaintance.

Tale of a Tub.

Box'd in a chair, the beau impatient sits,
While spouts run clatt'ring o'er the roof by fits;
And ever and anon with frightful din
The leather sounds; he trembles from within.
So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed,
Pregnant with Greeks, impatient to be freed,
(Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do,
Instead of paying chairmen, run them through),
Laocoon struck the outside with his spear,
And each imprison'd hero quak'd for fear.
Description of a city shower. Swift.

Clubs, diamonds, hearts, in wild disorder seen,
With throngs promiscuous strow the level green.
Thus when dispers'd a routed army runs,
Of Asia's troops, and Afric's sable sons,
With like confusion different nations fly,
Of various habit, and of various dye,
The pierc'd battalions disunited, fall
In heaps on heaps; one fate o'erwhelms them all.
Rape of the Lock, canto 3.

He does not consider, that sincerity in love is as much out of fashion as sweet snuff; no body takes it now.

Careless Husband.

[Page 52]
Lady Easy.

My dear, I am afraid you have provoked her a little too far.

Sir Charles.

O! Not at all. You shall see, I'll sweeten her, and she'll cool like a dish of tea.



THE reader must not expect to find here a complete list of the different tropes and figures that have been carefully noted by ancient critics and gram­marians. Tropes and figures have indeed been multiplied with so little reserve, as to make it no easy matter to distinguish them from plain language. A discovery al­most accidental, made me think of giving them a place in this work: I found that the most important of them depend on principles formerly explained; and I was glad of an opportunity to show the exten­sive influence of these principles. Con­fining myself therefore to figures that an­swer this purpose, I am luckily freed from much trash; without dropping, so far as I remember, any figure that merits a proper [Page 54] name. And I begin with Prosopopoeia or personification, which is justy intitled to the first place.


THis figure, which gives life to things in­animate, is so bold a delusion as to re­quire, one should imagine, very peculiar cir­cumstances for operating the effect. And yet, in the language of poetry, we find variety of expressions, which, though commonly reduced to this figure, are used without ceremony or any sort of preparation. I give, for example, the following expressions. Thirsty ground, hungry church-yard, furious dart, angry ocean. The epithets here, in their proper meaning, are attributes of sen­sible beings. What is the effect of such epithets, when apply'd to things inani­mate? Do they raise in the mind of the reader a perception of sensibility? Do they [Page 55] make him conceive the ground, the church-yard, the dart, the ocean, to be endued with animal functions? This is a curious inquiry; and whether so or not, it cannot be declined in handling the present subject.

One thing is certain, that the mind is prone to bestow sensibility upon things ina­nimate, where that violent effect is necessary to gratify passion. This is one instance, a­mong many, of the power of passion to adjust our opinions and belief to its grati­fication*. I give the following examples. Antony, mourning over the body of Cae­sar, murdered in the senate-house, vents his passion in the following words.

O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers.
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Julius Caesar, act 3. sc. 4.

Here Antony must have been impressed with some sort of notion, that the body of [Page 56] Caesar was listening to him, without which the speech would be foolish and absurd. Nor will it appear strange, after what is said in the chapter above cited, that passion should have such power over the mind of man. Another example of the same kind is, where the earth, as a common mother, is animated to give refuge against a father's unkindness.

O Earth, behold, I kneel upon thy bosom,
And bend my flowing eyes to stream upon
Thy face, imploring thee that thou wilt yield;
Open thy bowels of compassion, take
Into thy womb the last and most forlorn
Of all thy race. Hear me thou, common parent;
—I have no parent else.—Be thou a mo­ther,
And step between me and the curse of him,
Who was—who was, but is no more a father;
But brands my innocence with horrid crimes;
And for the tender names of child and daughter,
Now calls me murderer and parricide.
Mourning Bride, act. 4. sc. 7.

Plaintive passions are extremely solicitous for vent. A soliloquy commonly answers [Page 57] the purpose. But when a passion swells high, it is not satisfied with so slight a gra­tification: it must have a person to com­plain to; and if none be found, it will ani­mate things devoid of sense. Thus Philoc­tetes complains to the rocks and promonto­ries of the isle of Lemnos*; and Alcestes dying, invokes the sun, the light of day, the clouds, the earth, her husband's palace, &c. . Plaintive passions carry the mind still farther. Among the many principles that connect individuals in society, one is re­markable: it is that principle which makes us earnestly wish, that others should enter into our concerns and think and feel as we do. This social principle, when inflamed by a plaintive passion, will, for want of a more complete gratification, prompt the mind to give life even to things inanimate. Moschus, lamenting the death of Bion, conceives that the birds, the fountains, the trees, lament with him. The shepherd, [Page 58] who in Virgil bewails the death of Daph­nis, expresseth himself thus:

Daphni, tuum Poenos etiam ingemuisse leones
Interitum, montesque feri sylvaeque loquuntur.
Eclogue v. 27.


Illum etiam lauri, illum etiam flevere myricae.
Pinifer illum etiam sola sub rupe jacentem
Maenalus, et gelidi fleverunt saxa Lycaei.
Eclogue x. 13.


Ho visto al pianto mio
Responder per pietate i sassi e l'onde;
E sospirar le fronde
Ho visto al pianto mio.
Ma non ho visto mai,
Ne spero di vedere
Compassion ne la crudele, e bella.
Aminta di Tasso, act 1. sc. 2.

Earl Rivers carried to execution, says,

O Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison,
Fatal and ominous to Noble peers!
Within the guilty closure of thy walls
Richard the Second, here, was hack'd to death;
[Page 59] And, for more slander to thy dismal seat,
We give to thee our guiltless blood to drink.
Richard III. act 3. sc. 4.

King Richard having got intelligence of Bolingbroke's invasion, says, upon his landing in England from his Irish expedi­tion, in a mixture of joy and resentment,

—I weep for joy
To stand upon my kingdom once again.
Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand,
Though rebels wound thee with their horses hoofs.
As a long parted mother with her child
Plays fondly with her tears, and smiles in meet­ing;
So weeping, smiling, greet I thee my earth,
And do thee favour with my royal hands.
Feed not thy sovereign's foe, my gentle earth,
Nor with thy sweets comfort his rav'nous sense:
But let thy spiders that suck up thy venom,
And heavy-gaited toads, lie in their way;
Doing annoyance to the treach'rous feet,
Which with usurping steps do trample thee.
Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies;
And, when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,
Guard it, I pr'ythee, with a lurking adder;
Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch
[Page 60] Throw death upon thy sovereign's enemies.
Mock not my senseless conjuration, Lords:
This earth shall have a feeling; and these stones
Prove armed soldiers, ere her native king
Shall faulter under foul rebellious arms.
Richard II. act 3. sc. 2.

Among the ancients, it was customary after a long voyage to salute the natal soil. A long voyage, was of old a greater enter­prise than at present: the safe return to one's country after much fatigue and danger, was a circumstance extremely delightful; and it was natural to give the natal soil a temporary life, in order to sympathise with the traveller. See an example, Agamemnon of Aeschilus, act 3. in the beginning. Re­gret for leaving a place one has been ac­customed to, has the same effect*.

Terror produceth the same effect. A man, to gratify this passion, extends it to every thing around, even to things inani­mate: Speaking of Polyphemus,

Clamorem immensum tollit, quo pontus et omnes
[Page 61] Intremuere undae penitusque exterrita tellus
Aeneid. iii. 672.

—As when old Ocean roars,
And heaves huge surges to the trembling shores.
Iliad ii. 249.

And thund'ring footsteps shake the sounding shore.
Iliad ii. 549.

Then with a voice that shook the vaulted skies.
Iliad v. 431.

Racine, in the tragedy of Phedra, descri­bing the sea-monster that destroy'd Hippo­litus, conceives the sea itself to be inspi­red with terror as well as the spectators; or more accurately transfers from the specta­tors their terror to the sea, with which they were connected: ‘Le flot qui l'apporta recule epouvanté.’

A man also naturally communicates his joy to all objects around, animate or inani­mate:

—As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
[Page 62] Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabean odour from the spicy shore
Of Araby the Blest; with such delay
Well pleas'd, they slack their course, and many a league
Chear'd with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles.
Paradise Lost, b. 4.

I have been profuse of examples, to show what power many passions have to animate their objects. In all the foregoing exam­ples, the personification, if I mistake not, is so complete as to be derived from an ac­tual conviction, momentary indeed, of life and intelligence. But it is evident from numberless instances, that personification is not always so complete. Personification is a common figure in descriptive poetry, un­derstood to be the language of the writer, and not of any of his personages in a fit of passion. In this case, it seldom or never comes up to a conviction, even momenta­ry, of life and intelligence. I give the fol­lowing examples.

First in his east the glorious lamp was seen,
Regent of day, and all th' horizon round
[Page 63] Invested with bright rays; jocund to run
His longitude through heav'n's high road: the gray
Dawn, and the Pleiades before him danc'd,
Shedding sweet influence. Less bright the moon
But opposite, in levell'd west was set
His mirror, with full face borrowing her light
From him; for other light she needed none.
Paradise Lost, b. 7. l. 370.*

Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops.
Romeo and Juliet, act 3. sc. 7.

But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of you high eastward hill.
Hamlet, act 1. sc. 1.

It may, I presume, be taken for granted, that, in the foregoing instances, the perso­nification, either with the poet or his read­er, amounts not to a conviction of intelli­gence; nor that the sun, the moon, the [Page 64] day, the morn, are here understood to be sensible beings. What then is the nature of this personification? Upon considering the matter attentively, I discover that this species of personification must be referred to the imagination. The inanimate object is imagined to be a sensible being, but without any conviction, even for a moment, that it really is so. Ideas or fictions of i­magination have power to raise emotions in the mind*; and when any thing inanimate is, in imagination, supposed to be a sensible being, it makes by that means a greater fi­gure than when an idea is formed of it ac­cording to truth. The elevation however in this case, is far from being so great as when the personification arises to an actual conviction; and therefore must be consi­dered as of a lower or inferior sort. Thus personification is of two kinds. The first or nobler, may be termed passionate personi­fication: the other, or more humble, de­scriptive personification; because seldom or [Page 65] never is personification in a description car­ried the length of conviction.

The imagination is so lively and active, that its images are raised with very little ef­fort; and this justifies the frequent use of descriptive personification. This figure a­bounds in Milton's Allegro and Penseroso.

Abstract and general terms, as well as particular objects, are often necessary in poetry. Such terms however are not well adapted to poetry, because they suggest not any image to the mind: I can readily form an image of Alexander or Achilles in wrath; but I cannot form an image of wrath in the abstract, or of wrath inde­pendent of a person. Upon that account, in works addressed to the imagination, ab­stract terms are frequently personified. But this personification never goes farther than the imagination.

Sed mihi vel Tellus optem prius ima dehiscat;
Vel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
Pallentes umbras Erebi, noctemque profundam,
Ante pudor quam te violo, aut tua jura resolvo.
Aeneid. 4. l. 24.

[Page 66] Thus, to explain the effects of slander, it is imagined to be a voluntary agent:

—No, 'tis Slander;
Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue
Out-venoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath
Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
All corners of the world, kings, queens, and states,
Maids, matrons: nay, the secrets of the grave
This viperous Slander enters.
Shakespear, Cymbeline, act 3. sc. 4.

As also human passions. Take the follow­ing example.

—For Pleasure and Revenge
Have ears more deaf than adders, to the voice
Of any true decision.
Troilus and Cressida, act 2. sc. 4.

Virgil explains fame and its effects by a still greater variety of action*. And Shake­spear personifies death and its operations in a manner extremely fanciful:

[Page 67]
—Within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king,
Keeps Death his court; and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pomp;
Allowing him a breath, a little scene
To monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks;
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if his flesh, which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable; and humour'd thus,
Comes at the last, and with a little pin
Bores through his castle-walls, and farewell king!
Richard II. act 3. sc. 4.

Not less successfully is life and action given even to sleep:

K. Henry.
How many thousands of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O gentle Sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, Sleep, ly'st thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slum­ber;
Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
[Page 68] And lull'd with sounds of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why ly'st thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leav'st the kingly couch,
A watch-case to a common larum-bell?
Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast,
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge;
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
With deaf'ning clamours in the slipp'ry shrouds,
That, with the hurly, Death itself awakes:
Can'st thou, O partial Sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
And, in the calmest and the stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then, happy low! lie down;
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
Second Part Henry IV. act 3. sc. 1.

I shall add one example more, to show that descriptive personification may be used with propriety, even where the purpose of the discourse is instruction merely:

Oh! let the steps of youth be cautious,
How they advance into a dangerous world;
Our duty only can conduct us safe:
[Page 69] Our passions are seducers: but of all,
The strongest Love: he first approaches us,
In childish play, wantoning in our walks:
If heedlessly we wander after him,
As he will pick out all the dancing way,
We're lost, and hardly to return again.
We should take warning: he is painted blind,
To show us, if we fondly follow him,
The precipices we may fall into.
Therefore let Virtue take him by the hand:
Directed so, he leads to certain joy.

Hitherto our progress has been upon firm ground. Whether we shall be so lucky in the remaining part of the journey, seems doubtful. For after acquiring some knowledge of the subject, when we now look back to the expressions mentioned in the beginning, thirsty ground, furious dart, and such like, it seems as difficult as at first to say what sort of personification it is. Such expressions evidently raise not the slightest conviction of sensibility. Nor do I think they amount to descriptive personifi­cation: in the expressions mentioned, we do not so much as figure the ground or the [Page 70] dart to be animated; and if so, they cannot at all come under the present subject. And to show this more clearly, I shall endeavour to explain what effect such expressions have naturally upon the mind. In the expression angry ocean, for example, do we not ta­citly compare the ocean in a storm, to a man in wrath? It is by this tacit compa­rison, that the expression acquires a force or elevation, beyond what is found when an epithet is used proper to the object: for I have had occasion to show*, that a thing inanimate acquires a certain elevation by being compared to a sensible being. And this very comparison is itself a demonstration, that there is no personification in such expres­sions. For, by the very nature of a com­parison, the things compared are kept dis­tinct, and the native appearance of each is preserved. It will be shown afterward, that expressions of this kind belong to ano­ther figure, which I term a figure of speech, and which employs the seventh section of the present chapter.

[Page 71] Though thus in general we can precisely distinguish descriptive personification from what is merely a figure of speech, it is however often difficult to say, with respect to some expressions, whether they are of the one kind or of the other. Take the following instances.

The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise; in such a night,
Troilus methinks mounted the Trojan wall,
And sigh'd his soul towards the Grecian tents
Where Cressid lay that night.
Merchant of Venice, act 5. sc. 1.

—I have seen
Th' ambitious ocean swell, and rage, and foam,
To be exalted with the threat'ning clouds.
Julius Caesar, act 1. sc. 6.

Jane Shore.
My form, alas! has long forgot to please;
The scene of beauty and delight is chang'd,
No roses bloom upon my fading cheek,
No laughing graces wanton in my eyes;
But haggard Grief, lean-looking sallow Care,
[Page 72] And pining Discontent, a rueful train,
Dwell on my brow, all hideous and forlorn.
Jane Shore, act 1. sc. 2.

With respect to these and numberless other instances of the same kind, whether they be examples of personification or of a fi­gure of speech merely, seems to be an ar­bitrary question. They will be ranged un­der the former class by those only who are endued with a sprightly imagination. Nor will the judgement even of the same person be steady: it will vary with the present state of the spirits, lively or composed.

Having thus at large explained the pre­sent figure, its different kinds, and the prin­ciples from whence derived; what comes next in order is to ascertain its proper pro­vince, by showing in what cases it is suita­ble, in what unsuitable. I begin with observing, upon passionate personification, that this figure is not promoted by every passion indifferently. All dispiriting passions are averse to it. Remorse, in particular, is too serious and severe, to be gratified by [Page 73] a phantom of the mind. I cannot therefore approve the following speech of Enobarbus, who had deserted his master Antony.

Be witness to me, O thou blessed moon,
When men revolted shall upon record
Bear hateful memory, poor Enobarbus did
Before thy face repent—
Oh sovereign mistress of true melancholy,
The poisonous damp of night dispunge upon me,
That life, a very rebel to my will,
May hang no longer on me.
Antony and Cleopatra, act 4. sc. 7.

If this can be justified, it must be upon the Heathen system of theology, which con­verted into deities the sun, moon, and stars.

Secondly, After a passionate personifica­tion is properly introduced, it ought to be confined strictly to its proper province, that of gratifying the passion; and no sentiment nor action ought to be exerted by the ani­mated object, but what answers that pur­pose. Personification is at any rate a bold figure, and ought to be employed with great reserve. The passion of love, for ex­ample, [Page 74] in a plaintive tone, may give a mo­mentary life to woods and rocks, that the lover may vent his distress to them: but no passion will support a conviction so far stretched, as that these woods and rocks should be living witnesses to report the di­stress to others:

Ch'i' t'ami piu de la mia vita,
Se tu nol sai, crudele,
Chiedilo à queste selve,
Che te'l diranno, et te'l diran con esse
Le fere loro e i duri sterpi, e i sassi
Di questi alpestri monti,
Ch'i' ho si spesse volte
Inteneriti al suon de' miei Iamenti.
Pastor fido, act 3. sc. 3.

No lover who is not crazed will utter such a sentiment: it is plainly the operation of the writer, indulging his imagination with­out regard to nature. The same observa­tion is applicable to the following passage.

In winter's tedious nights sit by the fire
With good old folks, and let them tell thee tales
Of woful ages, long ago betid:
[Page 75] And ere thou bid goodnight, to quiet their grief,
Tell them the lamentable fall of me,
And send the hearers weeping to their beds.
For why! the senseless brands will sympathise
The heavy accent of thy moving tongue,
And in compassion weep the fire out.
Richard II. act 5. sc. 1.

One must read this passage very seriously to avoid laughing. The following passage is quite extravagant: the different parts of the human body are too intimately con­nected with self, to be personified by the power of any passion; and after converting such a part into a sensible being, it is still worse to make it be conceived as rising in rebellion against self.

Haste, bare my arm, and rouze the serpent's fury.
Coward flesh—
Would'st thou conspire with Caesar, to betray me,
As thou wert none of mine? I'll force thee to't.
Dryden, All for Love, act 5.

Next comes descriptive personification; upon which I must observe in general, that [Page 76] it ought to be cautiously used. A person­age in a tragedy, agitated by a strong pas­sion, deals in strong sentiments; and the reader, catching fire by sympathy, relishes the boldest personifications. But a writer, even in the most lively description, ought to take a lower flight, and content himself with such easy personifications as agree with the tone of mind inspired by the description. In plain narrative, again, the mind, serious and sedate, rejects personification altoge­ther. Strada, in his history of the Belgic wars, has the following passage, which, by a strained elevation above the tone of the subject, deviates into burlesk. ‘"Vix de­scenderat a praetoria navi Caesar; cum foeda illico exorta in portu tempestas, classem impetu disjecit, praetoriam hau­sit: quasi non vecturam amplius Caesa­rem, Caesarisque fortunam*."’ Neither do I approve, in Shakespear, the speech of King John, gravely exhorting the citizens of Angiers to a surrender; though a tragic writer has much greater latitude than a hi­storian. [Page 77] Take the following specimen of this speech.

The cannons have their bowels full of wrath;
And ready mounted are they to spit forth
Their iron-indignation 'gainst your walls.
Act 2. sc. 3.

Secondly, If extraordinary marks of re­spect put upon a person of the lowest rank be ridiculous, not less so is the personifica­tion of a mean object. This rule chiefly regards descriptive personification: for an object can hardly be mean that is the cause of a violent passion; in that circumstance, at least, it must be an object of importance. With respect to this point, it would be in vain to set limits to personification: taste is the only rule. A poet of superior genius hath more than others the command of this figure; because he hath more than o­thers the power of inflaming the mind. Homer appears not extravagant in anima­ting his darts and arrows: nor Thomson in animating the seasons, the winds, the rains, the dews. He even ventures to animate the diamond, and doth it with propriety.

[Page 78]
—That polish'd bright
And all its native lustre let abroad,
Dares, as it sparkles on the fair-one's breast,
With vain ambition emulate her eyes.

But there are things familiar and base, to which personification cannot descend. In a composed state of mind, to animate a lump of matter even in the most rapid flight of fancy, degenerates into burlesk.

How now? What noise? that spirit's possess'd with haste,
That wounds th' unresisting postern with these strokes.
Shakespear, Measure for Measure, act 4. sc. 6.

The following little better:

—Or from the shore
The plovers when to scatter o'er the heath,
And sing their wild notes to the list'ning waste.
Thomson, Spring, l. 23.

Speaking of a man's hand cut off in battle:

Te decisa suum, Laride, dextera quaerit:
Semianimesque micant digiti; ferrumque retrac­tant.
Aeneid. x. 395.

[Page 79] The personification here of a hand is in­sufferable, especially in a plain narration; not to mention that such a trivial incident is too minutely described.

The same observation is applicable to ab­stract terms, which ought not to be anima­ted unless they have some natural dignity. Thomson, in this article, is quite licentious. Witness the following instances out of many.

O vale of bliss! O softly swelling hills!
On which the power of cultivation lies,
And joys to see the wonders of his toil.
Summer, l. 1423.

Then sated Hunger bids his brother Thirst
Produce the mighty bowl:
Nor wanting is the brown October, drawn
Mature and perfect, from his dark retreat
Of thirty years; and now his honest front
Flames in the light refulgent.
Autumn, l. 516.

Thirdly, it is not sufficient to avoid im­proper subjects. Some preparation is neces­sary, in order to rouze the mind. The i­magination [Page 80] refuses its aid, till it be warmed at least, if not inflamed. Yet Thomson, without the least ceremony or preparation, introduceth each season as a sensible being:

From brightening fields of aether fair disclos'd,
Child of the sun, refulgent Summer comes,
In pride of youth, and felt through Nature's depth.
He comes attended by the sultry hours,
And ever-fanning breezes, on his way,
While from his ardent look, the turning Spring
Averts her blushful face, and earth and skies
All-smiling, to his hot dominion leaves.
Summer, l. 1.

See Winter comes, to rule the vary'd year,
Sullen and sad with all his rising train,
Vapours, and clouds, and storms.
Winter, l. 1.

This has violently the air of writing me­chanically without taste. It is not natural, that the imagination of a writer should be so much heated at the very commence­ment; and, at any rate, he cannot expect such ductility in his readers: but if this practice can be justified by authority, [Page 81] Thomson has one of no mean note: Vida begins his first eclogue in the following words.

Dicite, vos Musae, et juvenum memorate querelas;
Dicite; nam motas ipsas ad carmina cautes
Et requiesse suos perhibent vaga flumina cursus.

Even Shakespear is not always careful to prepare the mind for this bold figure. Take the following instance:

—Upon these taxations,
The clothiers all, not able to maintain
The many to them 'longing, have put off
The spinsters, carders, fullers, weavers; who,
Unfit for other life, compell'd by hunger
And lack of other means, in desp'rate manner
Daring th' event to th' teeth, are all in uproar,
And Danger serves among them.
Henry VIII. act 1. sc. 4.

Fourthly, Descriptive personification ought never to be carried farther than barely to a­nimate the subject: and yet poets are not easily restrained from making this phantom of their own creating behave and act in every respect as if it were really a sensible [Page 82] being. By such licence we lose sight of the subject; and the description is rendered ob­scure or unintelligible, instead of being more lively and striking. In this view, the following passage, describing Cleopatra on shipboard, appears to me exceptionable.

The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burnt on the water; the poop was beaten gold,
Purple the fails, and so perfumed, that
The winds were love sick with 'em.
Antony and Cleopatra, act 2. sc. 3.

Let the winds be personified; I make no objection. But to make them love-sick, is too far stretched; having no resemblance to any natural action of wind. In another passage, where Cleopatra is also the subject, the personification of the air is carried be­yond all bounds:

—The city cast
Its people out upon her; and Antony
Inthron'd i' th' market-place, did sit alone,
Whistling to th' air, which but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made a gap in nature.
Antony and Cleopatra, act 2. sc. 3.

[Page 83] The following personification of the earth or soil is not less wild.

She shall be dignify'd with this high honour
To bear my Lady's train; lest the base earth
Should from her vesture chance to steal a kiss;
And of so great a favour growing proud,
Disdain to root the summer-swelling flower,
And make rough winter everlastingly.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 2 sc. 7.

Shakespear, far from approving such in­temperance of imagination, puts this speech in the mouth of a ranting lover. Neither can I relish what follows.

Omnia quae, Phoebo quondam meditante, beatus
Audiit Eurotas, jussitque ediscere lauros,
Ille canit.
Virgil, Buc. vi. 82.

The chearfulness singly of a pastoral song, will scarce support personification in the lowest degree. But admitting, that a river gently flowing may be imagined a sensible being listening to a song, I cannot enter into the conceit of the river's ordering his lau­rels to learn the song. Here all resem­blance [Page 84] to any thing real is quite lost. This however is copied literally by one of our greatest poets; early indeed, before matu­rity of taste or judgement.

Thames heard the numbers as he flow'd along,
And bade his willows learn the moving song.
Pope's Pastorals, past. 4. l. 13.

This author, in riper years, is guilty of a much greater deviation from the rule. Dull­ness may be imagined a deity or idol, to be worshipped by bad writers: but then some sort of disguise is requisite, some bastard virtue must be bestowed, to give this idol a plausible appearance. Yet in the Dunciad, dullness, without the least disguise, is made the object of worship. The mind rejects such a fiction as unnatural; for dullness is a defect, of which even the dullest mortal is ashamed:

Then he: great tamer of all human art, &c.
Book i. 163.

The following instance is stretched beyond all resemblance. It is bold to take a part [Page 85] or member of a living creature, and to be­stow upon it life, volition, and action: af­ter animating two such members, it is still bolder to make them envy each other; for this is wide of any resemblance to reality:

—De nostri baci
Meritamente sia giudice quella, &c.
Pastor Fido, act 2. sc. 1.

Fifthly, The enthusiasm of passion may have the effect to prolong passionate perso­nification: but descriptive personification cannot be dispatched in too few words. A minute description dissolves the charm, and makes the attempt to personify appear ridi­culous. Homer succeeds in animating his darts and arrows: but such personification spun out in a French translation, is mere burlesk:

Et la fléche en furie, avide de son sang,
Part, vole à lui, l'atteint, et lui perce le flanc.

Horace says happily, ‘"Post equitem sedet atra Cura."’ See how this thought dege­nerates [Page 86] by being divided, like the former, into a number of minute parts:

Un fou rempli d'erreurs, que le trouble accompagne
Et malade à la ville ainsi qu'à la campagne,
En vain monte à cheval pour tromper son ennui,
Le Chagrin monte en croupe et galope avec lui.

The following passage is, if possible, still more faulty.

Her fate is whisper'd by the gentle breeze,
And told in sighs to all the trembling trees;
The trembling trees, in ev'ry plain and wood,
Her fate remurmur to the silver flood;
The silver flood, so lately calm, appears
Swell'd with new passion, and o'erflows with tears;
The winds, and trees, and floods, her death deplore,
Daphne, our grief! our glory! now no more.
Pope's Pastorals, iv. 61.

Let grief or love have the power to animate the winds, the trees, the floods, provided the figure be dispatched in a single expres­sion. Even in that case, the figure seldom has a good effect; because grief or love of the pastoral kind, are causes rather too faint for so violent an effect as imagining the winds, [Page 87] trees, or floods, to be sensible beings. But when this figure is deliberately spread out with great regularity and accuracy through many lines, the reader, instead of relishing it, is struck with its ridiculous appearance.


THis figure and the former are derived from the same principle. If, to gra­tify a plaintive passion, we can bestow a momentary sensibility upon an inanimate object, it is not more difficult to bestow a momentary presence upon a sensible being who is absent.

Hinc Drepani me portus et illaetabilis ora
Accipit. Hic, pelagi tot tempestatibus actus,
Heu! genitorem, omnis curae casusque levamen,
Amitto Anchisen: hic me pater optime fessum
Deseris, heu! tantis nequicquam erepte periclis.
Nec vates Helenus, cum multa horrenda monerer,
Hos mihi praedixit luctus; non dira Celaeno.
Aeneid. iii. 707.

[Page 88] This figure is sometimes joined with the former: things inanimate, to qualify them for listening to a passionate expostulation, are not only personified, but also conceived to be present.

Et, si fata Deûm, si mens non laeva fuisset,
Impulerat ferro Argolicas foedare latebras:
Trojaque nunc stares, Priamique arx alta maneres.
Aeneid. ii. 54.

—Poor Lord, is't I
That chase thee from thy country, and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of non-sparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim; pierce the still moving air,
That sings with piercing; do not touch my Lord.
All's well that ends well, act 3. sc. 4.

This figure, like all others, requires an agitation of mind. In plain narrative, as, for example, in giving the genealogy of a family, it has no good effect:

[Page 89]
—Fauno Picus pater; isque parentem
Te, Saturne, refert; tu sanguinis ultimus auctor.
Aeneid. vii. 48.


IN this figure we have another effect of the foregoing principle. An object un­common with respect to size, either very great of its kind or very little, strikes us with surprise; and this emotion, like all others, prone to gratification, forces upon the mind a momentary conviction that the object is greater or less than it is in reality. The same effect, precisely, attends figura­tive grandeur or littleness. Every object that produceth surprise by its singularity, is always seen in a false light while the emo­tion subsists: circumstances are exaggera­ted beyond truth; and it is not till after the emotion subsides, that things appear as they are. A writer, taking advantage of this [Page 90] natural delusion, enriches his description greatly by the hyperbole. And the read­er, even in his coolest moments, relishes this figure, being sensible that it is the ope­ration of nature upon a warm fancy.

It will be observed, that a writer is gene­rally more successful in magnifying by a hyperbole than in diminishing: a minute object contracts the mind, and fetters its power of conception; but the mind, dila­ted and inflamed with a grand object, moulds objects for its gratification with great facility. Longinus, with respect to the di­minishing power of a hyperbole, cites the following ludicrous thought from a comic poet. ‘"He was owner of a bit of ground not larger than a Lacedemonian let­ter.*"’ But, for the reason now given, the hyperbole has by far the greater force in magnifying objects; of which take the fol­lowing specimen.

For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a [Page 91] man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Genesis xiii. 15. 16.

Illa vel intactae segetis per summa volaret
Gramina: nec teneras cursu laesisset aristas.
Aeneid. vii. 808.

—Atque imo barathri ter gurgite vastos
Sorbet in abruptum fluctus, rursusque sub auras
Erigit alternos, et sidera verberat undâ.
Aeneid. iii. 421.

—Horrificis juxta tonat Aetna ruinis,
Interdumque atram prorumpit ad aethera nubem,
Turbine fumantem piceo et candente favilla:
Attollitque globos flammarum, et sidera lambit.
Aeneid. iii. 571.

Speaking of Polyphemus,

—Ipse arduus, altaque pulsat Sidera.
Aeneid. iii. 619.

—When he speaks,
The air, a charter'd libertine, is still.
Henry V. act 1. sc. 1.

[Page 92]
Now shield with shield, with helmet helmet clos'd,
To armour armour, lance to lance oppos'd,
Host against host with shadowy squadrons drew,
The sounding darts in iron tempests flew,
Victors and vanquish'd join promiscuous cries,
And shrilling shouts and dying groans arise;
With streaming blood the slipp'ry fields are dy'd,
And slaughter'd heroes swell the dreadful tide.
Iliad iv. 508.

The following may also pass, though stretched pretty far.

Econjungendo à temerario ardire
Estrema forza, e infaticabil lena
Vien che si' impetuoso il ferro gire,
Che ne trema la terra, e'l ciel balena.
Gierusalem, cant. 6. st. 46.

Quintilian* is fensible that this figure is natural. ‘"For," says he, "not content­ed with truth, we naturally incline to augment or diminish beyond it; and for that reason the hyperbole is familiar even among the vulgar and illiterate."’ And he adds, very justly, ‘"That the hyperbole is then proper, when the subject of itself [Page 93] exceeds the common measure."’ From these premisses, one would not expect the following conclusion, the only reason he can find for justifying this figure of speech. ‘"Conceditur enim amplius dicere, quia dici quantum est, non potest: meliusque ultra quam citra stat oratio."’ (We are in­dulged to say more than enough, because we cannot say enough; and it is better to be over than under). In the name of won­der, why this slight and childish reason, when immediately before he had made it evident, that the hyperbole is founded on human nature? I could not resist this per­sonal stroke of criticism, intended not a­gainst our author, for no human creature is exempt from error; but against the blind veneration that is paid to the ancient classic writers, without distinguishing their ble­mishes from their beauties.

Having examined the nature of this fi­gure, and the principle on which it is e­rected; I proceed, as in the first section, to some rules by which it ought to be govern­ed. And in the first place, it is a capital fault to introduce an hyperbole in the de­scription [Page 94] of an ordinary object or event which creates no surprise. In such a case, the hyperbole is altogether unnatural, being destitute of surprise, the only foundation that can support it. Take the following in­stance, where the subject is extremely fa­miliar, viz. swimming to gain the shore after a shipwreck.

I saw him beat the surges under him,
And ride upon their backs; he trode the water;
Whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted
The surge most swoln that met him: his bold head
'Bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar'd
Himself with his good arms, in lusty strokes
To th' shore, that o'er his wave-born basis bow'd,
As stooping to relieve him.
Tempest, act 2. sc. 1.

In the next place, it may be gathered from what is said, that an hyperbole can never suit the tone of any dispiriting passion. Sorrow in particular will never prompt such a figure; and for that reason the following hyperboles must be condemned as unnatu­ral.

[Page 95]
K. Rich.
Aumerle, thou weep'st, my tender­hearted cousin!
We'll make foul weather with despised tears;
Our sighs, and they, shall lodge the summer-corn,
And make a dearth in this revolting land.
Richard II. act 3. sc. 6.

Draw them to Tyber's bank, and weep your tears
Into the channel, till the lowest stream
Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.
Julius Caesar, act 1. sc. 1.

Thirdly, a writer, if he wish to succeed, ought always to have the reader in his eye. He ought in particular never to venture a bold thought or expression, till the reader be warmed and prepared for it. For this reason, an hyperbole in the beginning of a­ny work can never be in its place. Ex­ample:

Jam pauca aratro jugera regiae
Moles relinquent.
Horat. Carm. lib. 2. ode. 15.

In the fourth place, the nicest point of all, is to ascertain the natural limits of an hyper­bole, beyond which being overstrained it [Page 96] has a bad effect. Longinus, in the above­cited chapter, with great propriety of thought, enters a caveat against an hyper­bole of this kind. He compares it to a bowstring, which relaxes by overstrain­ing, and produceth an effect directly oppo­site to what is intended. I pretend not to ascertain any precise boundary: the attempt would be difficult, if not impracticable. I must therefore be satisfied with an humbler task, which is, to give a specimen of what I reckon overstrained hyperboles; and I shall be also extremely curt upon this subject, because examples are to be found every where. No fault is more common among writers of inferior rank; and instances are found even among those of the finest taste; witness the following hyperbole, too bold even for an Hotspur. Hotspur talking of Mortimer:

In single opposition hand to hand,
He did confound the best part of an hour
In changing hardiment with great Glendower.
Three times they breath'd, and three times did they drink,
[Page 97] Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;
Who then affrighted with their bloody looks,
Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
And hid his crisp'd head in the hollow bank
Blood-stained with these valiant combatants.
First Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4.

Speaking of Henry V.

England ne'er had a King until his time:
Virtue he had, deserving to command:
His brandish'd sword did blind men with its beams:
His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings:
His sparkling eyes, replete with awful fire,
More dazzled, and drove back his enemies,
Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their faces.
What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:
He never lifted up his hand, but conquer'd.
First Part Henry VI. act 1. sc. 1.

Lastly, an hyperbole after it is introduced with all advantages, ought to be compre­hended within the fewest words possible. As it cannot be relished but in the hurry and swelling of the mind, a leisurely view dissolves the charm, and discovers the de­scription to be extravagant at least, and perhaps also ridiculous. This fault is pal­pable [Page 98] in a sonnet which passeth for one of the most complete in the French language. Phillis is made as far to outshine the sun as he outshines the stars.

Le silence regnoit sur la terre et sur l'onde,
L'air devenoit serain, &c.
Collection of French epigrams, vol. 1. p. 66.

There is in Chaucer a thought expressed in a single line, which sets a young beauty in a more advantageous light, than the whole of this much-laboured poem. ‘Up rose the sun, and up rose Emelie.’

SECT. IV. The means or instrument conceived to be the agent.

IN viewing a group of things, we have obviously a natural tendency to bestow all possible perfection upon that particular object which makes the greatest figure. The emotion raised by the object, is, by [Page 99] this means, thoroughly gratified; and if the emotion be lively, it prompts us even to exceed nature in the conception we form of the object. Take the following examples.

For Neleus' sons Alcides' rage had slain.

A broken rock the force of Pirus threw.

In these instances, the rage of Hercules and the force of Pirus, being the capital cir­cumstances, are so far exalted as to be con­ceived the agents that produce the effects.

In the following instance, hunger being the chief circumstance in the description, is itself imagined to be the patient.

Whose hunger has not tasted food these three days.
Jane Shore.

—As when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill.
Paradise Lost.

—As when the potent rod
Of Amram's son in Egypt's evil day
Wav'd round the coast, upcall'd a pitchy cloud
Of locusts.
Paradise Lost.

SECT. V. A figure, which, among related objects, ex­tends properties of one to another.

THis figure is not dignified with a pro­per name, because it has been over­looked by all writers. It merits, however, place in this work; and must be distinguished from those formerly handled, as depend­ing on a different principle. Giddy brink, jovial wine, daring wound, are examples of this figure. Here are expressions that cer­tainly import not the ordinary relation of an adjective to its substantive. A brink, for example, cannot be termed giddy in a proper sense: neither can it be termed giddy in any figurative sense that can import any of its qualities or attributes. When we at­tend to the expression, we discover that a brink is termed giddy from producing that effect in those who stand on it. In the same manner a wound is said to be daring, [Page 101] not with respect to itself, but with respect to the boldness of the person who inflicts it: and wine is said to be jovial, as inspiring mirth and jollity. Thus the attributes of one subject, are extended to another with which it is connected; and such expression must be considered as a figure, because it deviates from ordinary language.

How are we to account for this figure, for we see it lies in the thought, and to what principle shall we refer it? Have poets a privilege to alter the nature of things, and at pleasure to bestow attributes upon sub­jects to which these attributes do not be­long? It is an evident truth, which we have had often occasion to inculcate, that the mind, in idea, passeth easily and sweet­ly along a train of connected objects; and, where the objects are intimately connected, that it is disposed to carry along the good or bad properties of one to another; espe­cially where it is in any degree inflamed with these properties*. From this princi­ple is derived the figure under consideration. [Page 102] Language, invented for the communication of thought, would be imperfect, if it were not expressive even of the slighter propen­sities and more delicate feelings. But lan­guage cannot remain so imperfect, among a people who have received any polish; be­cause language is regulated by internal feel­ing, and is gradually so improved as to ex­press whatever passes in the mind. Thus, for example, a sword in the hand of a coward, is, in poetical diction, termed a coward sword: the expression is significative of an internal operation; for the mind, in passing from the agent to its instrument, is disposed to extend to the latter the proper­ties of the former. Governed by the same principle, we say listening fear, by extend­ing the attribute listening of the man who listens, to the passion with which he is mo­ved. In the expression, bold deed, or au­dax facinus, we extend to the effect, what properly belongs to the cause. But not to waste time by making a commentary upon every expression of this kind, the best way to give a complete view of the subject, is to [Page 103] exhibit a table of the different connections that may give occasion to this figure. And in viewing this table, it will be observed, that the figure can never have any grace but where the connections are of the most intimate kind.

  • 1. An attribute of the cause expressed as an attribute of the effect.
    Audax facinus.
    Of yonder fleet a bold discovery make.
    An impious mortal gave the daring wound.
    —To my adventrous song,
    That with no middle flight intends to soar.
    Paradise Lost.
  • 2. An attribute of the effect expressed as an attribute of the cause.
    Quos periisse ambos misera censebam in mari.
    No wonder, fallen such a pernicious height.
    Paradise Lost.
  • [Page 104] 3. An effect expressed as an attribute of the cause.

    Jovial wine, Giddy brink, Drowsy night, Mu­sing midnight, Panting height, Astonish'd thought, Mournful gloom.

    Casting a dim religious light.
    Milton, Comus.
    And the merry bells ring round,
    And the jocund rebecks sound.
    Milton, Allegro.
  • 4. An atribute of a subject bestowed upon one of its parts or members.
    Longing arms.
    It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
    That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear.
    Romeo and Juliet, act 3. sc. 7.
    —Oh, lay by
    Those most ungentle looks and angry weapons;
    Unless you mean my griefs and killing fears
    Should stretch me out at your relentless feet.
    Fair Penitent, act 3.
    [Page 105]
    —And ready now
    To stoop with wearied wing, and willing feet,
    On the bare outside of this world.
    Paradise Lost, b. 3.
  • 5. A quality of the agent given to the instrument with which it operates.
    Why peep your coward swords half out their shells?
  • 6. An attribute of the agent given to the subject upon which it operates.
    High-climbing hill.
  • 7. A quality of one subject given to an­other.
    Icci, beatis nunc Arabum invides
    Hora. Carm. l. 1. ode 29.
    When sapless age, and weak unable limbs,
    Should bring thy father to his drooping chair.
    By art, the pilot through the boiling deep
    And howling tempest, steers the fearless ship.
    Iliad xxiii. 385.
    [Page 106]
    Then, nothing loath, th' enamour'd fair he led,
    And sunk transported on the conscious bed.
    Odyss. viii. 337.
    A stupid moment motionless she stood.
    Summer, l. 1336.
  • 8. A circumstance connected with a sub­ject, expressed as a quality of the subject.
    Breezy summit.
    'Tis ours the chance of fighting fields to try.
    Iliad i. 301.
    Oh! had I dy'd before that well-fought wall.
    Odyss. v. 395.

From this table it appears, that the ex­pressing an effect as an attribute of the cause, is not so agreeable as the opposite expression. The descent from cause to ef­fect is natural and easy: the opposite direc­tion resembles retrograde motion*. Pant­ing height, for example, astonish'd thought, are strained and uncouth expressions, which [Page 107] a writer of taste will avoid. For the same reason, an epithet is unsuitable, which at present is not applicable to the subject, however applicable it may be afterward.

Submersasque obrue puppes.
Aeneid. i. 73.

And mighty ruins fall.
Iliad v. 411.

Impious sons their mangled fathers wound.

Another rule regards this figure, That the property of one object ought not to be bestowed upon another with which it is in­congruous:

K. Rich.
—How dare thy joints forget
To pay their awful duty to our presence.
Richard II. act 3. sc. 6.

The connection betwixt an awful superior and his submissive dependent is so intimate, that an attribute may readily be transferred from the one to the other. But awfulness cannot be so transferred, because it is in­consistent with submission.

SECT VI. Metaphor and Allegory.

A Metaphor differs from a simile, in form only, not in substance. In a si­mile the two different subjects are kept dis­tinct in the expression, as well as in the thought: in a metaphor, the two sub­jects are kept distinct in thought only, not in expression. A hero resembles a lion, and upon that resemblance many similes have been made by Homer and other poets. But instead of resembling a lion, let us take the aid of the imagination, and feign or fi­gure the hero to be a lion. By this varia­tion the simile is converted into a metaphor; which is carried on by describing all the qualities of a lion that resemble those of the hero. The fundamental pleasure here, that of resemblance, belongs to thought as distin­guished from expression. There is an addition­al pleasure which arises from the expression. [Page 109] The poet, by figuring his hero to be a lion, goes on to describe the lion in appearance, but in reality the hero; and his description is peculiarly beautiful, by expressing the vir­tues and qualities of the hero in new terms, which, properly speaking, belong not to him, but to a different being. This will better be understood by examples. A family connected with a common pa­rent, resembles a tree, the trunk and branches of which are connected with a common root. But let us suppose, that a family is figured not barely to be like a tree, but to be a tree; and then the simile will be converted into a metaphor, in the following manner.

Edward's sev'n sons, whereof thyself art one,
Were sev'n fair branches, springing from one root:
Some of these branches by the dest'nies cut:
But Thomas, my dear Lord, my life, my Glo'­ster,
One flourishing branch of his most royal root,
Is hack'd down, and his summer-leaves all faded,
By Envy's hand and Murder's bloody axe.
Richard II. act 1. sc. 3.

[Page 110] Figuring human life to be a voyage at sea:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar, act 4. sc. 5.

Figuring glory and honour to be a garland of fresh flowers:

—Would to heav'n,
Thy name in arms were now as great as mine!
Pr. Henry.
I'll make it greater, ere I part from thee;
And all the budding honours on thy crest
I'll crop, to make a garland for my head.
First Part Henry IV. act 5. sc. 9.

Figuring a man who hath acquired great reputation and honour to be a tree full of fruit:

—Oh, boys, this story
The world may read in me: my body's mark'd
With Roman swords; and my report was once
[Page 111] First with the best of note. Cymbeline lov'd me;
And when a soldier was the theme, my name
Was not far off: then was I as a tree,
Whose boughs did bend with fruit. But in one night,
A storm or robbery, call it what you will,
Shook down my mellow hangings, nay my leaves;
And left me bare to weather.
Cymbeline, act 3. sc. 3.

I am aware that the term metaphor has been used in a more extensive sense than I give it; but I thought it of consequence, in matters of some intricacy, to separate things that differ from each other, and to confine words within their most proper sense. An allegory differs from a metaphor; and what I would chuse to call a figure of speech, dif­fers from both. I shall proceed to explain these differences. A metaphor is defined a­bove to be an operation of the imagination, figuring one thing to be another. An al­legory requires no operation of the imagina­tion, nor is one thing figured to be another: it consists in chusing a subject having pro­perties or circumstances resembling those of [Page 112] the principal subject; and the former is de­scribed in such a manner as to represent the latter. The subject thus represented is kept out of view; we are left to disco­ver it by reflection; and we are pleased with the discovery, because it is our own work. Quintilian* gives the following instance of an allegory,

O navis, referent in mare te novi
Fluctus. O quid agis? fortiter occupa portum.
Horat. lib. 1. ode 14,

and explains it elegantly in the following words: ‘"Totusque ille Horatii locus, quo navim pro republica, fluctuum tempe­states pro bellis civilibus, portum pro pa­ce atque concordia, dicit."’

There cannot be a finer or more correct allegory than the following, in which a vineyard is put for God's own people the Jews.

Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the [Page 113] land. The hills were covered with its shadow, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all which pass do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast doth de­vour it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine, and the vineyard thy right hand hath planted, and the branch thou madest strong for thyself.

Psalm 80.

In a word, an allegory is in every respect similar to an hieroglyphical painting, ex­cepting only, that words are used instead of colours. Their effects are precisely the same. A hieroglyphic raises two images in the mind; one seen, which represents one not seen. An allegory does the same. The representative subject is described; and it is by resemblance that we are enabled to ap­ply the description to the subject represent­ed.

In a figure of speech, neither is there any fiction of the imagination em­ploy'd, nor a representative subject introdu­ced. A figure of speech, as imply'd from [Page 114] its name, regards the expression only, not the thought; and it may be defined, the employing a word in a sense different from what is proper to it. Thus youth or the beginning of life, is expressed figuratively by morning of life. Morning is the begin­ning of the day; and it is transferred sweet­ly and easily to signify the beginning of any other series, life especially, the progress of which is reckoned by days.

Figures of speech are reserved for a sepa­rate section; but a metaphor and allegory are so much connected, that it is necessary to handle them together: the rules for dis­tinguishing the good from the bad, are common to both. We shall therefore pro­ceed to these rules, after adding some ex­amples to illustrate the nature of an allego­ry. Horace speaking of his love to Pyrrha, which was now extinguished, expresses himself thus.

—Me tabulâ sacer
Votivâ paries indicat uvida
Suspendisse potenti
Vestimenta maris Deo.
Carm. l. 1. ode 5.

[Page 115] Again,

Phoebus volentem praelia me loqui,
Victas et urbes, increpuit lyrâ:
Ne parva Tyrrhenum per aequor
Vela darem.
Carm. l. 4. ode 15.

Great Lords, wise men ne'er sit and wail their loss,
But chearly seek how to redress their harms.
What though the mast be now blown overboard,
The cable broke, the holding-anchor lost,
And half our sailors swallow'd in the flood?
Yet lives our pilot still. Is't meet, that he
Should leave the helm, and, like a fearful lad,
With tearful eyes add water to the sea;
And give more strength to that which hath too much?
While in his moan the ship splits on the rock,
Which industry and courage might have sav'd?
Ah, what a shame! ah, what a fault were this!
Third Part Henry VI. act 5. sc. 5.

Ha! thou hast rous'd
The lion in his den, he stalks abroad
And the wide forest trembles at his roar.
I find the danger now.
Oroonoko, act 3. sc. 2.

[Page 116] The rules that govern metaphors and al­legories, are of two kinds: those of the first kind concern the construction of a meta­phor or allegory, and ascertain what are perfect and what are faulty: those of the other kind concern the propriety or impro­priety of introduction, in what circumstances these figures may be admitted, and in what circumstances they are out of place. I be­gin with rules of the first kind; some of which coincide with those already given with respect to similes; some are peculiar to metaphors and allegories.

And in the first place, it has been obser­ved, that a simile cannot be agreeable where the resemblance is either too strong or too faint. This holds equally in a metaphor and allegory; and the reason is the same in all. In the following instances, the resem­blance is too faint to be agreeable.

—But there's no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust.
Macbeth, act 4. sc. 4.

[Page 117]The best way to judge of this metaphor, is to convert it into a simile; which would be bad, because there is scarce any resemblance betwixt lust and a cistern, or betwixt enor­mous lust and a large cistern. Again,

He cannot buckle his distemper'd cause
Within the belt of rule.
Macbeth, act 5. sc. 2.

There is no resemblance betwixt a distem­pered cause and any body that can be con­fined within a belt. Again,

Steep me in poverty to the very lips.
Othello, act 4. sc. 9.

Poverty here must be conceived a fluid, which it resembles not in any manner. Speaking to Bolingbroke banish'd for six years.

The sullen passage of thy weary steps
Esteem a foil, wherein thou art to set
[Page 118] The precious jewel of thy home-return.
Richard II. act 1. sc. 6.


Here is a letter, lady,
And every word in it a gaping wound
Issuing life-blood.
Merchant of Venice, act 3. sc. 3.

The following metaphor is strained be­yond all endurance. Timur-bec, known to us by the name of Tamarlane the Great, writes to Bajazet Emperor of the Ottomans in the following terms.

Where is the monarch who dares resist us? where is the potentate who doth not glory in being num­bered among our attendants? As for thee, descend­ed from a Turcoman sailor, since the vessel of thy unbounded ambition hath been wreck'd in the gulf of they self-love, it would be proper, that thou shouldst take in the sails of they temerity, and cast the anchor of repentance in the port of sincerity and justice, which is the port of safety; lest the tempest of our vengeance make thee perish in the sea of the punishment thou deservest.

Such strained figures, it is observable, are [Page 119] not unfrequent in the first dawn of refine­ment. The mind in a new enjoyment knows no bounds, and is generally carried to excess, till experience discover the just medium.

Secondly, whatever resemblance subjects may have, it is wrong to put one for ano­ther if they bear no mutual proportion. Where a very high and a very low subject are compared, the simile takes on an air of burlesk; and the same will be the effect, where the one is imagined to be the other, as in a metaphor, or made to represent the other, as in an allegory.

Thirdly, these figures, a metaphor in particular, ought not to be extended to a great length, nor be crowded with many minute circumstances; for in that case it is scarcely possible to avoid obscurity. It is difficult, during any course of time, to sup­port a lively image of one thing being ano­ther. A metaphor drawn out to any length, instead of illustrating or enlivening the principal subject, becomes disagreeable by overstraining the mind. Cowley is ex­tremely [Page 120] licentious in this way. Take the following instance:

Great, and wise conqu'ror, who where-e'er
Thou com'st, dost fortify, and settle there!
Who canst defend as well as get;
And never hadst one quarter beat up yet;
Now thou art in, thou ne'er will part
With one inch of my vanquish'd heart;
For since thou took'st it by assault from me,
'Tis garrison'd so strong with thoughts of thee
It fears no beauteous enemy.

For the same reason, however agreeable at first long allegories may be by their novelty, they never afford any lasting pleasure: wit­ness the Fairy Queen, which with great power of expression, variety of images, and melody of versification, is scarce ever read a second time.

In the fourth place, the comparison car­ried on in a simile, being in a metaphor sunk, and the principal subject being ima­gined that very thing which it only resem­bles, an opportunity is furnished to describe it in terms taken strictly or literally with re­spect to its imagined nature. This suggests [Page 121] another rule, That in constructing a meta­phor, the writer ought to confine himself to the simplest expressions, and make use of such words only as are applicable literally to the imagined nature of his subject. Fi­gurative words ought carefully to be avoid­ed; for such complicated images, instead of setting the principal subject in a strong light, involve it in a cloud; and it is well if the reader, without rejecting by the lump, endeavour patiently to gather the plain meaning, regardless of the figures:

A stubborn and unconquerable flame
Creeps in his veins, and drinks the streams of life.
Lady Jane Gray, act 1. sc. 1.

Copied from Ovid,

Sorbent avidae praecordia flammae.
Metamorphoses, lib. ix. 172.

Let us analize this expression. That a fe­ver may be imagined a flame, I admit; though more than one step is necessary to come at the resemblance. A fever, by heating the body, resembles fire; and it is no stretch to imagine a fever to be a fire. [Page 122] Again, by a figure of speech, flame may be put for fire, because they are commonly conjoined; and therefore a fever may also be imagined a flame. But now admitting a fever to be a flame, its effects ought to be explained in words that agree literally to a flame. This rule is not observed here; for a flame drinks figuratively only, not properly. King Henry to his son Prince Henry:

Thou hid'st a thousand daggers in thy thoughts,
Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart
To stab at half an hour of my frail life.
Second Part Henry IV. act 4. sc. 11.

Such faulty metaphors are pleasantly ridi­culed in the Rehearsal:


Sir, to conclude, the place you fill has more than amply exacted the talents of a wary pilot; and all these threatening storms, which, like impregnate clouds, hover o'er our heads, will, when they once are grasp'd but by the eye of rea­son, melt into fruitful showers of blessings on the people.


Pray mark that allegory. Is not that good?

[Page 123]

Yes, that grasping of a storm with the eye, is admirable.

Act 2. sc. 1.

Fifthly, The jumbling different meta­phors in the same sentence, or the begin­ning with one metaphor and ending with another, is commonly called a mixt me­taphor. Quintilian bears testimony a­gainst it in the bitterest terms: ‘"Nam id quoque in primis est custodiendum, ut quo ex genere coeperis translationis, hoc desinas. Multi enim, cum initium a tempestate sumpserunt, incendio aut rui­na finiunt: quae est inconsequentia rerum foedissima." L. 8. cap. 6. § 2.

K. Henry.
—Will you again unknit
This churlish knot of all-abhorred war,
And move in that obedient orb again,
Where you did give a fair and natural light?
First Part Henry IV. act 5. sc. 1.

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
The stings and arrows of outrag'ous fortune;
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.
Hamlet, act 3. sc. 2.

[Page 124] In the sixth place, It is unpleasant to join different metaphors in the same period, even where they are preserved distinct. It is difficult to imagine the subject to be first one thing and then another in the same period without interval: the mind is distracted by the rapid transition; and when the imagination is put on such hard duty, its images are too faint to produce any good effect:

At regina gravi jamdudum saucia cura,
Vulnus alit venis, et caeco carpitur igni.
Aeneid. iv. 1.

——Est mollis flamma medullas
Interea, et tacitum vivit sub pectore vulnus.
Aeneid. iv. 66.

Motum ex Metello consule civicum,
Bellique causas, et vitia, et modos,
Ludumque fortunae, gravesque
Principum amicitias, et arma
Nondum expiatis uncta cruoribus,
Periculosae plenum opus aleae,
Tractas, et incedis per ignes
Subpositos cineri doloso.
Horat. Carm. l. 2. ode 1.

[Page 125] In the last place, It is still worse to jum­ble together metaphorical and natural ex­pression, or to construct a period so as that it must be understood partly metaphorically partly literally. The imagination cannot follow with sufficient ease changes so sudden and unprepared. A metaphor begun and not carried on, hath no beauty; and instead of light there is nothing but obscurity and confusion. Instances of such incorrect com­position are without number. I shall, for a specimen, select a few from different au­thors:

Speaking of Britain,

This precious stone set in the sea
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house
Against the envy of less happier lands.
Richard II. act 2. sc. 1.

In the first line Britain is figured to be a precious stone. In the following lines, Britain, divested of her metaphorical dress, is presented to the reader in her natural ap­pearance.

[Page 126]
These growing feathers pluck'd from Caesar's wing,
Will make him fly an ordinary pitch,
Who else would soar above the view of men,
And keep us all in servile fearfulness.
Julius Caesar, act 1. sc. 1.

Rebus angustis animosus atque
Fortis adpare: sapienter idem
Contrahes vento nimium secundo
Turgida vela.

The following is a miserable jumble of ex­pressions, arising from an unsteady view of the subject betwixt its figurative and natural appearance.

But now from gath'ring clouds destruction pours,
Which ruins with mad rage our halcyon hours:
Mists from black jealousies the tempest form,
Whilst late divisions reinforce the storm.
Dispensary, canto 3.

To thee, the world its present homage pays,
The harvest early, but mature the praise.
Pope's imitation of Horace, b. 2.

[Page 127]
Oui, sa pudeur n'est que franche grimace,
Qu'une ombre de vertu qui garde mal la place,
Et qui s'evanouit, comme l'on peut savoir
Aux rayons du soleil qu'une bourse fait voir.
Molliere, L'Etourdi, act 3. sc. 2.

Et son feu depourvû de sense et de lecture,
S'éteint a chaque pas, faute de nourriture.
Boileau, L'art poetique, chant. 3. l. 319.

Dryden, in his dedication to the translation of Juvenal, says,

When thus, as I may say, before the use of the loadstone, or knowledge of the compass, I was sailing in a vast ocean, without other help than the pole-star of the ancients, and the rules of the French stage among the moderns, &c.

There is a time when factions, by the vehe­mence of their own fermentation, stun and disable one another.


This fault of jumbling the figure and plain expression into one confused mass, is not less common in allegory than in meta­phor. Take the following example.

[Page 128]
—Heu! quoties fidem,
Mutatosque Deos flebit, et aspera
Nigris aequora ventis
Emirabitur insolens,
Qui nunc te fruitur credulus aureâ:
Qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
Sperat, nescius aurae Fallacis.
Horat. Carm. l. 1. ode 5.

Lord Halifax, speaking of the ancient fa­bulists: ‘"They (says he) wrote in signs and spoke in parables: all their fables carry a double meaning: the story is one and entire; the characters the same throughout; not broken or changed, and always conformable to the nature of the creature they introduce. They never tell you, that the dog which snapp'd at a shadow, lost his troop of horse; that would be unintelligible. This is his (Dry­den's) new way of telling a story, and confounding the moral and the fable to­gether."’ After instancing from the hind and panther, he goes on thus: ‘"What relation has the hind to our Sa­viour? or what notion have we of a [Page 129] panther's bible? If you say he means the church, how does the church feed on lawns, or range in the forest? Let it be always a church or always a cloven­footed beast, for we cannot bear his shifting the scene every line."’

A few words more upon allegory. No­thing gives greater pleasure than this figure, when the representative subject bears a strong analogy, in all its circumstances, to that which is represented. But the choice is seldom so lucky; the resemblance of the representative subject to the principal, be­ing generally so faint and obscure, as to puzzle and not please. An allegory is still more difficult in painting than in poetry. The former can show no resemblance but what appears to the eye: the latter hath many other resources for showing the re­semblance. With respect to what the Abbé du Bos* terms mixt allegorical composi­tions, these may do in poetry, because in writing the allegory can easily be distin­guished from the historical part: no person [Page 130] mistakes Virgil's Fame for a real being. But such a mixture in a picture is intolerable; because in a picture the objects must ap­pear all of the same kind, wholly real or wholly emblematical. The history of Mary de Medicis, in the palace of Luxen­bourg, painted by Rubens, is in a vicious taste, by a perpetual jumble of real and al­legorical personages, which produce a dis­cordance of parts and an obscurity upon the whole: witness in particular, the tablature re­presenting the arrival of Mary de Medicis at Marseilles: mixt with the real personages, the Nereids and Tritons appear sounding their shells. Such a mixture of fiction and reality in the same group, is strangely ab­surd. The picture of Alexander and Roxana, described by Lucian, is gay and fanciful: but it suffers by the allegorical figures. It is not in the wit of man to in­vent an allegorical representation deviating farther from any appearance of resemblance, than one exhibited by Lewis XIV. anno 1664; in which an overgrown chariot, in­tended to represent that of the sun, is [Page 131] dragg'd along, surrounded with men and women, representing the four ages of the world, the celestial signs, the seasons, the hours, &c.: a monstrous composition; and yet scarce more absurd than Guido's tabla­ture of Aurora.

In an allegory, as well as in a metaphor, terms ought to be chosen that properly and literally are applicable to the representative subject. Nor ought any circumstance to be added, that is not proper to the representa­tive subject, however justly it may be ap­plicable figuratively to the principal. Upon this account the following allegory is faulty.

Ferus et Cupido,
Semper ardentes acuens sagittas
Cote cruentâ.
Horat. l. 2. ode 8.

For though blood may suggest the cru­elty of love, it is an improper or immaterial circumstance in the representative subject: water, not blood, is proper for a whetstone.

We proceed to the next head, which is, to examine in what circumstances these fi­gures [Page 132] are proper, in what improper. This inquiry is not altogether superseded by what is said upon the same subject in the chapter of comparisons; because, upon trial, it will be found, that a short metaphor or allegory may be proper, where a simile, drawn out to a greater length, and in its nature more solemn, would scarce be relished. The difference however is not considerable; and in most instances the same rules are ap­plicable to both. And, in the first place, a metaphor, as well as a simile, are exclu­ded from common conversation, and from the description of ordinary incidents.

In the next place, in any severe passion which totally occupies the mind, metaphor is unnatural. For that reason, we must condemn the following speech of Macbeth.

Methought, I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
Macbeth doth murther sleep; the innocent sleep;
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of Care,
The birth of each day's life, sore Labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great Nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.—
Act 2. sc. 3.

[Page 133] The next example, of deep despair, beside the highly figurative style, hath more the air of raving than of sense:

Is it the voice of thunder, or my fa­ther?
Madness! Confusion! let the storm come on,
Let the tumultuous roar drive all upon me,
Dash my devoted bark; ye surges, break it;
'Tis for my ruin that the tempest rises.
When I am lost, sunk to the bottom low,
Peace shall return, and all be calm again.
Fair Penitent, act 4.

The metaphor I next introduce, is sweet and lively, but it suits not the fiery temper of Chamont, inflamed with passion. Para­bles are not the language of wrath venting itself without restraint:

You took her up a little tender flower,
Just sprouted on a bank, which the next frost
Had nip'd; and with a careful loving hand,
Transplanted her into your own fair garden,
Where the sun always shines: there long she flou­rish'd,
Grew sweet to sense and lovely to the eye,
Till at the last a cruel spoiler came,
[Page 134] Cropt this fair rose, and rifled all its sweetness,
Then cast it like a loathsome weed away.
Orphan, act 4.

The following speech, full of imagery, is not natural in grief and dejection of mind.

O my son! from the blind dotage
Of a father's fondness these ills arose.
For thee I've been ambitious, base and bloody:
For thee I've plung'd into this sea of sin;
Stemming the tide with only one weak hand,
While t'other bore the crown, (to wreathe thy brow),
Whose weight has sunk me ere I reach'd the shore.
Mourning Bride, act 5. sc. 6.

The finest picture that ever was drawn of deep distress, is in Macbeth*, where Mac­duff is represented lamenting his wife and children, inhumanly murdered by the tyrant. Struck with the news, he questions the messenger over and over; not that he doubt­ed the fact, but that his heart revolted a­gainst so cruel a misfortune. After strug­gling some time with his grief, he turns from his wife and children to their savage [Page 135] butcher; and then gives vent to his resent­ment; but still with manliness and dignity:

O, I could play the woman with mine eyes,
And braggart with my tongue. But, gentle Heav'n!
Cut short all intermission: front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
Within my sword's length set him—If he 'scape,
Then Heav'n forgive him too.

This passage is a delicious picture of human nature. One expression only seems doubt­ful. In examining the messenger, Macduff expresses himself thus:

He hath no children—all my pretty ones!
Did you say all? what all? Oh, hell-kite! all?
What! all my pretty little chickens and their dam,
At one fell swoop!

Metaphorical expression, I am sensible, may sometimes be used with grace, where a re­gular simile would be intolerable: but there are situations so overwhelming, as not to admit even the slightest metaphor. It requires great delicacy of taste to determine with firmness, whether the present case be of that nature. I incline to think it is; and [Page 136] yet I would not willingly alter a single word of this admirable scene.

But metaphorical language is proper when a man struggles to bear with dignity or decency a misfortune however great. The struggle agitates and animates the mind:

Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man; to day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls as I do.
Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 6.

SECT. VII. Figure of Speech.

IN the section immediately foregoing, a figure of speech is defined, ‘"The em­ploying [Page 137] a word in a sense different from what is proper to it;"’ and the new or uncommon sense of the word is termed the figurative sense. The figurative sense must have a relation to that which is proper; and the more intimate the relation is, the figure is the more happy. How ornamental this figure is to language, will not be readily i­magined by any one who hath not given peculiar attention. I shall endeavour to dis­play its capital beauties and advantages. In the first place, a word used figuratively, to­gether with its new sense, suggests what it commonly bears: and thus it has the effect to present two objects; one signified by the figurative sense, which may be termed the principal object; and one signified by the proper sense, which may be termed accesso­ry. The principal makes a part of the thought; the accessory is merely ornamen­tal. In this respect, a figure of speech is precisely similar to concordant sounds in music, which, without contributing to the melody, make it harmonious. I explain myself by examples. Youth, by a figure of speech, is termed the morning of life. This [Page 138] expression signifies youth, the principal ob­ject, which enters into the thought: but it suggests, at the same time, the proper sense of morning; and this accessory object being in itself beautiful and connected by resemblance to the principal object, is not a little ornamental. I give another exam­ple, of a different kind, where an attribute is expressed figuratively, Imperious ocean. Together with the figurative meaning of the epithet imperious, there is suggested its proper meaning, viz. the stern authority of a despotic prince. Upon this figurative power of words, Vida descants with great elegance:

Nonne vides, verbis ut veris saepe relictis
Accersant simulata, aliundeque nomina porro
Transportent, aptentque aliis ea rebus; ut ip sae,
Exuviasque novas, res, insolitosque colores
Indutae, saepe externi mirentur amictus
Unde illi, laetaeque aliena luce fruantur,
Mutatoque habitu, nec jam sua nomina mallent?
Saepe ideo, cum bella canunt, incendia c [...]edas
Cernere, diluviumque ingens surgentibus undis.
Contrà etiam Martis pugnas imitabitur ignis,
Cum furit accensis acies Vulcania campis.
[Page 139] Nec turbato oritur quondam minor aequore pugna:
Confligunt animosi Euri certamine vasto
Inter se, pugnantque adversis molibus undae.
Usque adeo passim sua res insignia laetae
Permutantque, juvantque vicissim; & mutua sese
Altera in alterius transformat protinus ora.
Tum specie capti gaudent spectare legentes:
Nam diversa simul datur è re cernere eadem
Multarum simulacra animo subeuntia rerum.
Poet. lib. 3. l. 44.

In the next place, this figure possesses a signal power of aggrandising an object, by the following means. Words, which have no original beauty but what arises from their sound, acquire an adventitious beauty from their meaning. A word signifying any thing that is agreeable, becomes by that means agreeable; for the agreeableness of the object is communicated to its name*. This acquired beauty, by the force of cu­stom, adheres to the word even when used figuratively; and the beauty received from the thing it properly signifies, is communi­cated to the thing which it is made to sig­nify [Page 140] figuratively. Consider the foregoing expression Imperious ocean, how much more elevated it is than Stormy ocean.

Thirdly, this figure hath a happy effect in preventing the familiarity of proper names. The familiarity of a proper name, is com­municated to the thing it signifies by means of their intimate connection; and the thing is thereby brought down in our feeling*. This bad effect is prevented by using a figu­rative word instead of one that is proper; as, for example, when we express the sky by terming it the blue vault of heaven. For though no work made with hands can com­pare with the sky in magnificence, the ex­pression however is good, by preventing the object from being brought down by the familiarity of its proper name. With respect to the degrading familiarity of pro­per names, Vida has the following passage.

Hinc si dura mihi passus dicendus Ulysses,
[Page 141] Non illum vero memorabo nomine, sed qui
Et mores hominum multorum vidit, & urbes,
Naufragus eversae post saeva incendia Trojae.
Poet. lib. 2. l. 46.

Lastly, by this figure language is enriched and rendered more copious. In that re­spect, were there no other, a figure of speech is a happy invention. This property is finely touched by Vida:

Quinetiam agricolas ea fandi nota voluptas
Exercet, dum laeta seges, dum trudere gemmas
Incipiunt vites, sitientiaque aetheris imbrem
Prata bibunt, ridentque satis surgentibus agri.
Hanc vulgo speciem propriae penuria vocis
Intulit, indictisque urgens in rebus egestas.
Quippe ubi se vera ostendebant nomina nusquam,
Fas erat hinc atque hinc transferre simillima veris.
Poet. lib. 3. l. 90.

The beauties I have mentioned belong to every figure of speech. Several other beauties peculiar to one or other sort, I shall have occasion to remark afterward.

Not only subjects, but qualities, actions, effects, may be expressed figuratively. Thus [Page 142] as to subjects, the gates of breath for the lips, the watery kingdom for the ocean. As to qualities, fierce for stormy, in the expres­sion Fierce winter: altus for profundus, al­tus puteus, altum mare: Breathing for per­spiring, Breathing plants. Again, as to ac­tions, the sea rages: Time will melt her frozen thoughts: Time kills grief. An ef­fect is put for the cause, as lux for the sun; and a cause for the effect, as boum labores for corn. The relation of resemblance is one plentiful source of figures of speech; and nothing is more common than to apply to one object the name of another that re­sembles it in any respect. Height, size, and wordly greatness, though in themselves they have no resemblance, produce emo­tions in the mind that have a resemblance; and, led by this resemblance, we naturally express worldly greatness by height or size. One feels a certain uneasiness in looking down to a great depth: and hence depth is made to express any thing disagreeable by excess; as depth of grief, depth of despair. Again, height of place and time long past, produce similar feelings; and hence the ex­pression, [Page 143] Ut altius repetam. Distance in past time, producing a strong feeling, is put for any strong feeling: Nihil mihi antiquius nostra amicitia. Shortness with relation to space, for shortness with relation to time: Brevis esse laboro; obscurus fio. Suffering a punish­ment resembles paying a debt: hence pen­dere poenas. Upon the same account, light may be put for glory, sun-shine for prospe­rity, and weight for importance.

Many words, originally figurative, ha­ving, by long and constant use, lost their figurative power, are degraded to the infe­rior rank of proper terms. Thus the words that express the operations of the mind, have in all languages been originally figura­tive. The reason holds in all, that when these operations came first under considera­tion, there was no other way of describing them but by what they resembled. It was not practicable to give them proper names, as may be done to objects that can be as­certained by sight and touch. A soft na­ture, jarring tempers, weight of wo, pom­pous phrase, beget compassion, assuage grief, break a vow, bend the eye downward, shower [Page 144] down curses, drown'd in tears, wrapt in joy, warm'd with eloquence, loaden with spoils, and a thousand other expressions of the like nature, have lost their figurative sense. Some terms there are, that cannot be said to be either purely figurative or altogether proper: originally figurative, they are tend­ing to simplicity, without having lost alto­gether their figurative power. Virgil's Regi­na saucia cura, is perhaps one of these ex­pressions. With ordinary readers, saucia will be considered as expressing simply the effect of grief; but one of a lively imagina­tion will exalt the phrase into a figure.

To epitomise this subject, and at the same time to give a clear view of it, I can­not think of a better method, than to pre­sent to the reader a list of the several rela­tions upon which figures of speech are com­monly founded. This list I divide into two tables; one of subjects expressed figurative­ly, and one of attributes.

FIRST TABLE. Subjects expressed figuratively.
  • [Page 145]1. A word proper to one subject employ­ed figuratively to express a resembling sub­ject.

    There is no figure of speech so frequent, as what is derived from the relation of re­semblance. Youth, for example, is signi­fied figuratively by the morning of life. The life of a man resembles a natural day in se­veral particulars. The morning is the be­ginning of day, youth the beginning of life: the morning is chearful, so is youth; &c. By another resemblance, a bold warrior is termed the thunderbolt of war; a multitude of troubles, a sea of troubles.

    No other figure of speech possesses so many different beauties, as that which is founded on resemblance. Beside the beau­ties above mentioned, common to all sorts, it possesses in particular the beauty of a me­taphor or of a simile. A figure of speech [Page 146] built upon resemblance, suggests always a comparison betwixt the principal subject and the accessory; and by this means every good effect of a metaphor or simile, may, in a short and lively manner, be produced by this figure of speech.

  • 2. A word proper to the effect employ'd figuratively to express the cause.

    Lux for the sun. Shadow for cloud. A helmet is signified by the expression glitter­ing terror. A tree by shadow or umbrage. Hence the expression,

    Nec habet Pelion umbras.

    Where the dun umbrage hangs.
    Spring, l. 1023.

    A wound is made to signify an arrow:

    Vulnere non pedibus te consequar.

    There is a peculiar force and beauty in this figure. The word which signifies fi­guratively the principal subject, denotes it to be a cause by suggesting the effect.

  • [Page 147] 3. A word proper to the cause, employ'd figuratively to express the effect.

    Boumque labores for corn. Sorrow or grief for tears.

    Again Ulysses veil'd his pensive head,
    Again unmann'd, a show'r of sorrow shed.

    Streaming Grief his faded cheek bedew'd.

    Blindness for darkness:

    Caecis erramus in undis.
    Aeneid. iii. 200.

    There is a peculiar energy in this figure similar to that in the former. The figura­tive name denotes the subject to be an ef­fect by suggesting its cause.

  • 4. Two things being intimately connect­ed, the proper name of the one employ'd figuratively to signify the other.

    Day for light. Night for darkness. Hence, A sudden night. Winter for a storm at sea.

    [Page 148]
    Interea magno misceri murmure pontum,
    Emissamque Hyemem sensit Neptunus.
    Aeneid. i. 128.

    This last figure would be too bold for a British writer, as a storm at sea is not inse­parably connected with winter in this cli­mate.

  • 5. A word proper to an attribute em­ploy'd figuratively to denote the subject.

    Youth and beauty for those who are young and beautiful: ‘Youth and beauty shall be laid in dust.’

    Majesty for the King:

    What art thou, that usurp'st this time of night,
    Together with that fair and warlike form,
    In which the Majesty of buried Denmark
    Did sometime march?
    Hamlet, act 1. sc. 1.

    —Or have ye chosen this place,
    After the toils of battle, to repose
    Your weary'd virtue?
    Paradise Lost.

    [Page 149] Verdure for a green field.
    Summer. l. 301.

    Speaking of cranes:

    To pigmy nations wounds and death they bring,
    And all the war descends upon the wing.
    Iliad iii. 10.

    Cool age advances venerably wise.
    Iliad iii. 149.

    The peculiar beauty of this figure arises from suggesting an attribute that embellishes the subject, or puts it in a stronger light.

  • 6. A complex term employ'd figuratively to denote one of the component parts.

    Funus for a dead body. Burial for a grave.

  • 7. The name of one of the component parts instead of the complex term.

    Taeda for a marriage. The East for a country situated east from us. Jovis vesti­gia servat, for imitating Jupiter in general.

  • 8. A word signifying time or place em­ploy'd [Page 150] figuratively to denote a connected subject.

    Clime for a nation, or for a constitution of government: Hence the expression, Merciful clime. Fleecy winter for snow. Seculum felix.

  • 9. A part for the whole.

    The pole for the earth. The head for the person.

    Triginta minas pro capite tuo dedi.

    Tergum for the man:

    Fugiens tergum.

    Vultus for the man:

    Jam fulgor armorum fugaces
    Terret equos, equitumque vultus.

    Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus
    Tam chari capitis?

    Dumque virent genua.

    [Page 151]
    Thy growing virtues justify'd my cares,
    And promis'd comfort to my silver hairs.
    Iliad ix. 616.

    —Forthwith from the pool he rears
    His mighty stature.
    Paradise Lost.

    The silent heart which grief assails.

    The peculiar beauty of this figure consists in marking out that part which makes the greatest figure.

  • 10. The name of the container em­ploy'd figuratively to signify what is con­tained.

    Grove for the birds in it: Vocal grove. Ships for the seamen: Agonizing ships. Mountains for the sheep pasturing upon them: Bleating mountains. Zacynthus, I­thaca, &c. for the inhabitants. Ex moestis domibus. Livy.

  • 11. The name of the sustainer employ'd figuratively to signify what is sustained.

    [Page 152] Altar for the sacrifice. Field for the battle fought upon it: Well-fought field.

  • 12. The name of the materials employ'd figuratively to signify the things made of them.

    Ferrum for gladius.

  • 13. The names of the Heathen deities employ'd figuratively to signify what they patronise.

    Jove for the air. Mars for war. Venus for beauty. Cupid for love. Ceres for corn. Neptune for the sea. Vulcan for fire.

    This figure bestows great elevation upon the subject; and therefore ought to be con­fined to the higher strains of poetry.

SECOND TABLE. Attributes expressed figuratively.
  • 1. When two attributes are connected, [Page 153] the name of the one may be employ'd fi­guratively to express the other.

    Purity and virginity are attributes of the same person. Hence the expression, Virgin snow for pure snow.

  • 2. A word signifying properly an attri­bute of one subject, employ'd figuratively to express a resembling attribute of another subject.

    Tottering state. Imperious ocean. Angry flood. Raging tempest. Shallow fears.

    My sure divinity shall bear the shield,
    And edge thy sword to reap the glorious field.
    Odyssey xx. 61.

    Black omen, for an omen that portends bad fortune:

    Ater odor.

    The peculiar beauty of this figure arises from suggesting a comparison.

  • [Page 154] 3. A word proper to the subject, em­ploy'd to express one of its attributes.

    Mens for intellectus. Mens for a resolution.‘Istam, oro, exue mentem.’

  • 4. When two subjects have a resem­blance by a common quality, the name of the one subject may be employ'd figuratively to denote that quality in the other.

    Summer life for agreeable life.

  • 5. The name of the instrument, made to signify the power of employing it.
    —Melpomene, cui liquidam pater
    Vocem cum cithara dedit.

The ample field of figurative expression display'd in these tables, affords great scope for reasoning and reflection. Several of the observations relating to metaphor, are ap­plicable to figures of speech. These I [Page 155] shall slightly retouch, with some additions peculiarly adapted to the present subject.

In the first place, as the figure under consideration is built upon relation, we find from experience, and it must be obvious from reason, that the beauty of the figure depends on the intimacy of the relation be­twixt the figurative and proper sense of the word. A slight resemblance, in parti­cular, will never make this figure agreeable. The expression, for example, drink down a secret, for listening to a secret with atten­tion, is harsh and uncouth, because there is scarce any resemblance betwixt listening and drinking. The expression weighty crack, used by Ben Johnson for loud crack, is worse if possible: a loud sound has not the slightest resemblance to a piece of mat­ter that is weighty. The following expres­sion of Lucretius is not less faulty. ‘"Et lepido quae sunt fucata sonore." i. 645.

—Sed magis
Pugnas et exactos tyrannos
[Page 156] Densum humeris bibit aure vulgus.
Horat. Carm. l. 2. ode 13.

Phemius! let acts of gods, and heroes old,
What ancient bards in hall and bow'r have told,
Attemper'd to the lyre, your voice employ,
Such the pleas'd ear will drink with silent joy,
Odyssey i. 433.

Strepitumque exterritus hausit.
Aeneid. vi. 559.

—Write, my Queen,
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send.
Cymbeline, act 1. sc. 2.

As thus th' effulgence tremulous I drink.
Summer, l. 1684.

Neque audit currus habenas.
Georg. i. 514.

O Prince! (Lycaon's valiant son reply'd)
As thine the steeds, be thine the task to guide.
The horses practis'd to their lord's command,
Shall hear the rein, and answer to thy hand.
Iliad. v. 288.

The following figures of speech seem al­together wild and extravagant, the figurative [Page 157] and proper meaning having no connection whatever. Moving softness, freshness breathes, breathing prospect, flowing spring, dewy light, lucid coolness, and many others of this false coin may be found in Thom­son's Seasons.

Secondly, the proper sense of the word ought to bear some proportion to the figu­rative sense, and not soar much above it, nor sink much below it. This rule, as well as the foregoing, is finely illustrated by Vida:

Haec adeo cum sint, cum fas audere poetis
Multa modis multis; tamen observare memento,
Si quando haud propriis rem mavis dicere verbis,
Translatisque aliunde notis, longeque petitis,
Ne nimiam ostendas, quaerendo talia, curam.
Namque aliqui exercent vim duram, et rebus iniqui
Nativam eripiunt formam, indignantibus ipsis,
Invitasque jubent alienos sumere vultus.
Haud magis imprudens mihi erit, et luminis expers,
Qui puero ingentes habitus det ferre gigantis,
Quam siquis stabula alta lares appellet equinos,
Aut crines magnae genitricis gramina dicat.
Poet. l. iii. 148.

[Page 158] Thirdly, in a figure of speech, every circumstance ought to be avoided that a­grees with the proper sense only, not the figurative sense; for it is the latter that expresses the thought, and the former serves for no other purpose but to make harmo­ny:

Zacynthus green with ever-shady groves,
And Ithaca, presumptuous boast their loves;
Obtruding on my choice a second lord,
They press the Hymenean rite abhorr'd.
Odyssey xix. 152.

Zacynthus here standing figuratively for the inhabitants, the description of the island is quite out of place. It puzzles the reader, by making him doubt whether the word ought to be taken in its proper or figurative sense.

—Write, my Queen,
And with mine eyes. I'll drink the words you send,
Though ink be made of gall.
Cymbeline, act 1. sc. 2.

The disgust one has to drink ink in reality, [Page 159] is nothing to the purpose where the subject is drinking ink figuratively.

In the fourth place, to draw consequen­ces from a figure of speech, as if the word were to be understood literally, is a gross absurdity, for it is confounding truth with fiction:

Be Moubray's sins so heavy in his bosom,
That they may break his foaming courser's back,
And throw the rider headlong in the lists,
A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford.
Richard II. act 1. sc. 3.

Sin may be imagined heavy in a figurative sense: but weight in a proper sense belongs to the accessory only; and therefore to de­scribe the effects of weight, is to desert the principal subject, and to convert the accessory into a principal.

How does your Grace?
Why, well;
Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell.
I know myself now, and I feel within me
A peace above all earthly dignities,
[Page 160] A still and quiet conscience. The King has cur'd me,
I humbly thank his Grace; and, from these shoul­ders,
These ruin'd pillars, out of pity taken
A load would sink a navy, too much honour.
Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 6.

Ulysses speaking of Hector:

I wonder now how yonder city stands
When we have here the base and pillar by us.
Troilus and Cressida, act 4. sc. 9.


No, my heart is turn'd to stone: I strike it and it hurts my hand.

Othello, act 4. sc. 5.
Not less, even in this despicable now,
Than when my name fill'd Afric with affrights,
And froze your hearts beneath your torrid zone.
Don Sebastian King of Portugal, act 1.

How long a space, since first I lov'd, it is!
To look into a glass I fear,
And am surpris'd with wonder, when I miss
Grey hairs and wrinkles there.
Cowley, vol. 1. p. 86.

[Page 161]
I chose the flourishing'st tree in all the park
With freshest boughs, and fairest head;
I cut my love into his gentle bark,
And in three days behold 'tis dead;
My very written flames so violent be,
They've burnt and wither'd up the tree.
Cowley, vol. 1. p. 136.

Ah, mighty Love, that it were inward heat
Which made this precious Limbeck sweat!
But what, alas, ah what does it avail
That she weeps tears so wond'rous cold,
As scarce the asses hoof can hold,
So cold, that I admire they fall not hail.
Cowley, vol. 1. p. 132.

Je crains que cette saison
Ne nous amenne la peste;
La gueule du chien celeste
Vomit feu sur l'horison.
A fin que je m'en délivre,
Je veux lire ton gros livre
Jusques au dernier feüillet:
Tout ce que ta plume trace,
Robinet, a de la glace
A faire trembler Juillet.

In me tota ruens Venus
Cyprum deseruit.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 19.

[Page 162]
O Alphonso, Alphonso!
Devouring seas have wash'd thee from my sight,
No time shall rase thee from my memory;
No, I will live to be thy monument:
The cruel ocean is no more thy tomb;
But in my heart thou art interr'd.
Mourning Bride, act 1. sc. 1.

This would be very right, if there were a­ny inconsistence in being interred in one place really and in another place figura­tively.

From considering that a word em­ploy'd in a figurative sense suggests at the same time its proper meaning, a fifth rule occurs, That to raise a figure of speech, we ought to use no word, the proper sense of which is inconsistent or incongruous with the subject: for no incongruity, far less inconsistency, whether real or imagined, ought to enter into the expression of any subject:

Interea genitor Tyberini ad fluminis undam
Vulnera siccabat lymphis—
Aeneid. x. 833.

[Page 163]
Tres adeo incertos caeca caligine soles
Erramus pelago, totidem sine sidere noctes.
Aeneid. iii. 203.

The foregoing rule may be extended to form a sixth, That no epithet ought to be given to the figurative sense of a word that agrees not also with its proper sense:

—Dicat Opuntiae
Frater Megillae, quo beatus
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 27.

Parcus deorum cultor, et infrequens,
Insanientis dum sapientiae
Consultus erro.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 34.

Seventhly, The crowding into one pe­riod or thought different figures of speech, is not less faulty than crowding metaphors in that manner. The mind is distracted in the quick transition from one image to ano­ther, and is puzzled instead of being plea­sed:

I am of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck'd the honey of his music vows.

[Page 164]
My bleeding bosom sickens at the sound.
Odyss. i. 439.

—Ah miser,
Quantâ laboras in Charybdi!
Digne puer meliore flammâ.
Quae saga, quis te solvere Thessalis
Magus venenis, quis poterit deus?
Vix illigatum te triformi
Pegasus expediet Chimaerâ.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 27.

Eighthly, If crowding figures be bad, it is still worse to graft one figure upon ano­ther. For instance,

While his keen falchion drinks the warriors lives.
Iliad xi. 211.

A falchion drinking the warriors blood is a figure built upon resemblance, which is passable. But then in the expression, lives is again put for blood; and by thus grafting one figure upon another the expression is rendered obscure and unpleasant.

Ninthly, Intricate and involved figures, that can scarce be analized or reduced to plain language, are least of all tolerable:

[Page 165]
Votis incendimus aras.
Aeneid. iii. 279.

—Onerantque canistris
Dona laboratae Cereris.
Aeneid. viii. 180.

Vulcan to the Cyclopes,

Arma acri facienda viro: nunc viribus usus,
Nunc manibus rapidis, omni nunc arte magistra:
Praecipitate moras.
Aeneid. viii. 441.

—Huic gladio, perque aerea suta
Per tunicam squalentem auro, latus haurit apertum.
Aeneid. x. 313.

Semotique prius tarda necessitas
Lethi, corripuit gradum.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 3.

Scribêris Vario fortis, et hostium
Victor, Maeonii carminis alite.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 6.

Else shall our fates be number'd with the dead.
Iliad v. 294.

Commutual death the fate of war confounds.
Iliad viii. 85. and xi. 117.

[Page 166] Speaking of Proteus,

Instant he wears, elusive of the rape,
The mimic force of every savage shape.
Odyss. iv. 563.

Rolling convulsive on the floor, is seen
The piteous object of a prostrate Queen.
Ibid. iv. 952.

The mingling tempest waves its gloom.
Autumn, 337.

A various sweetness swells the gentle race.
Ibid. 640.

A sober calm fleeces unbounded ether.
Ibid. 967.

The distant water-fall swells in the breeze.
Winter, 738.

In the tenth place, When a subject is in­troduced by its proper name, it is absurd to attribute to it the properties of a different subject to which the word is sometimes ap­ply'd in a figurative sense:

Hear me, oh Neptune! thou whose arms are hurl'd
From shore to shore, and gird the solid world.
Odyss. ix. 617.

[Page 167] Neptune is here introduced personally, and not figuratively for the ocean: the descrip­tion therefore, which is only applicable to the ocean, is altogether improper.

It is not sufficient, that a figure of speech be regularly constructed, and be free from blemish: it requires taste to discern when it is proper when improper; and taste, I su­spect, is the only guide we can rely on. One however may gather from reflection and ex­perience, that ornaments and graces suit not any of the dispiriting passions, nor are pro­per for expressing any thing grave and im­portant. In familiar conversation, they are in some measure ridiculous. Prospero in the Tempest, speaking to his daughter Mi­randa, says,

The fringed curtains of thine eyes advance,
And say what thou seest yond.

No exception can be taken to the justness of the figure; and circumstances may be i­magined to make it proper: but it is cer­tainly not proper in familiar conversation.

[Page 168] In the last place, though figures of speech have a charming effect when accurately con­structed and properly introduced, they ought however to be scattered with a sparing hand: nothing is more luscious, and nothing con­sequently more satiating, than redundant ornament of any kind.

CHAP. XXI. Narration and Description.

HORACE, and many writers after him, give instructions for chusing a subject adapted to the genius of the author. But rules of criticism would be end­less, did one descend to peculiarities in ta­lent or genius. The aim of the present work is, to consider human nature in gene­ral, and to explore what is common to the species. The choice of a subject comes not under such a plan: but the manner of exe­cution comes under it; because the manner of execution is subjected to general rules These rules respect the things expressed, as well as the language or expression; which suggests a division of the present chapter into two parts; first of thoughts, and next of words. I pretend not to justify this di­vision as entirely accurate. In discoursing [Page 170] of the thoughts, it is difficult to abstract al­together from words; and still more diffi­cult, in discoursing of the words, to abs­tract altogether from thought.

The first observation is, That the thoughts which embellish a narration ought to be chaste and solid. While the mind is intent upon facts, it is little disposed to the opera­rations of the imagination. Poetical ima­ges in a grave history are intolerable; and yet Strada's Belgic history is full of poetical images. These being discordant with the subject, are disgustful; and they have a still worse effect, by giving an air of fiction to a genuine history. Such flowers ought to be scattered with a sparing hand, even in epic poetry; and at no rate are they proper, till the reader be warmed, and by an enlivened imagination be prepared to relish them: in that state of mind, they are extremely a­greeable. But while we are sedate and at­tentive to an historical chain of facts, we reject with disdain every fiction. This Belgic history is indeed wofully vicious both in matter and form: it is stuffed with [Page 171] frigid and unmeaning reflections, as well as with poetical flashes, which, even laying aside the impropriety, are mere tinsel.

Vida*, following Horace, recommends a modest commencement of an epic poem; giving for a reason, that the writer ought to husband his fire. This reason has weight; but what is said above suggests a reason still more weighty: Bold thoughts and figures are never relished till the mind be heated and thoroughly engaged, which is not the reader's case at the commence­ment. Shakespear, in the first part of his history of Henry VI. begins with a senti­ment too bold for the most heated imagi­nation:

Hung be the heav'ns with black, yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars.
That have consented unto Henry's death!
[Page 172] Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.

The passage with which Strada begins his history, is too poetical for a subject of that kind; and at any rate too high for the be­ginning of a grave performance. A third reason ought to have not less influence than either of the former: A man who, upon his first appearance, endeavours to exhibit all his talents, is never relished; the first periods of a work ought therefore to be short, natural, and simple. Cicero, in his oration pro Archia poeta, errs against this rule: his reader is out of breath at the very first period, which seems never to end. Burnet begins the history of his own times with a period long and intricate.

A third rule or observation is, That where the subject is intended for entertain­ment solely, not for instruction, a thing ought to be described as it appears, not as it is in reality. In running, for example, the impulse upon the ground is accurately pro­portioned to the celerity of motion: in ap­pearance [Page 173] it is otherwise; for a person in swift motion seems to skim the ground, and scarcely to touch it. Virgil, with great taste, describes quick running according to its appearance; and thereby raises an image far more lively, than it could have been by adhering scrupulously to truth:

Hos super advenit Volsca de gente Camilla,
Agmen agens equitum et florentes aere catervas,
Bellatrix: non illa colo calathisve Minervae
Foemineas assueta manus; sed praelia virgo
Dura pati, cursuque pedum praevertere ventos.
Illa vel intactae segetis per summa volaret
Gramina: nec teneras cursu laesisset aristas:
Vel mare per medium, fluctu suspensa tumenti,
Ferret iter; celeres nec tingeret aequore plantas.
Aeneid vii. 803.

This example is copied by the author of Telemachus:

Les Brutiens sont legeres à la course comme les cerfs, et comme les daims. On croiroit que l'herbe même la plus tendre n'est point foulée sous leurs pieds; à peine laissent ils dans le sable quel­ques traces de leurs pas.

Liv. 10.

[Page 174] Again,

Déja il avoit abattu Eusilas si léger à la course, qu'à peine il imprimoit la trace de ses pas dans le sable, et qui devançoit dans son pays les plus ra­pides flots de l'Eurotas et de l'Alphée.

Liv. 20.

Fourthly, In narration as well as in de­scription, facts and objects ought to be painted so accurately as to form in the mind of the reader distinct and lively images. Every useless circumstance ought indeed to be suppressed, because every such circum­stance loads the narration; but if a circum­stance be necessary, however slight, it can­not be described too minutely. The force of language consists in raising complete ima­ges*; which cannot be done till the read­er, forgetting himself, be transported as by magic into the very place and time of the important action, and be converted, as it were, into a real spectator, beholding every thing that passes. In this view, the narra­tive in an epic poem ought to rival a picture [Page 175] in the liveliness and accuracy of its repre­sentations: no circumstance must be omit­ted that tends to make a complete image; because an imperfect image, as well as any other imperfect conception, is cold and un­interresting. I shall illustrate this rule by several examples, giving the first place to a beautiful passage from Virgil.

Qualis populeâ moerens Philomela sub umbrâ
Amiss [...]s queritur foetus, quos durus arator
Observans nido implumes detraxit.
Georg. lib. 4. l. 511.

The poplar, plowman, and unfledged, though not essential in the description, are circumstances that tend to make a com­plete image, and upon that account are an embellishment.


Hic viridem Aeneas frondenti ex ilice metam
Constituit, signum nautis.
Aeneid. v. 129.

[Page 176] Horace, addressing to Fortune:

Te pauper ambit sollicita prece
Ruris colonus: te dominam aequoris,
Quicumque Bithynâ lacessit
Carpathium pelagus carinâ.
Carm. lib. 1. ode 35.

—Illum ex moenibus hosticis
Matrona bellantis tyranni
Prospiciens, et adulta virgo,
Suspiret: Eheu, ne rudis agminum
Sponsus lacessat regius asperum
Tactu leonem, quem cruenta
Per medias rapit ira caedes.
Carm. lib. 3. ode 2.

Shakespear says*, ‘"You may as well go about to turn the sun to ice by fanning in his face with a peacock's father."’ The peacock's feather, not to mention the beau­ty of the object, completes the image. An accurate image cannot be formed of this fanciful operation, without conceiving a particular feather; and the mind is at some loss, when this is not specified in the de­scription. [Page 177] Again, ‘"The rogues slighted me into the river with as little remorse, as they would have drown'd a bitch's blind puppies, fifteen i' th' litter*."’

Old Lady.
You would not be a queen?
No not for all the riches under heaven.
Old Lady.
'Tis strange: a three-pence bow'd would hire me, old as I am, to queen it.
Henry VIII. act 2. sc. 5.

In the following passage, the action, with all its material circumstances, is represented so much to the life, that it could not be better conceived by a real spectator; and it is this manner of description which contri­butes greatly to the sublimity of the passage.

He spake; and to confirm his words, out-flew
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
Of mighty cherubim: the sudden blaze
Far round illumin'd hell: highly they rag'd
Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms,
[Page 178] Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war,
Hurling defiance toward the vault of heav'n.
Milton, b. 1.

A passage I am to cite from Shakespear, falls not much short of that now mentioned in particularity of description:

O you hard hearts! you cruel men of Rome!
Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
Your infants in your arms; and there have sat
The live-long day with patient expectation
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome.
And when you saw his chariot but appear,
Have you not made an universal shout,
That Tyber trembled underneath his banks,
To hear the replication of your sounds,
Made in his concave shores?
Julius Caesar, act 1. sc. 1.

The Henriade of Voltaire errs greatly a­gainst the foregoing rule: every thing is touched in a summary way, without ever descending to the circumstances of an event. This manner is good in a general history, [Page 179] the purpose of which is to record important transactions: but in a fable, which hath a very different aim, it is cold and uninterest­ing; because it is impracticable to form distinct images of persons or things repre­sented in a manner so superficial.

It is observed above, that every useless circumstance ought to be suppressed. To deal in such circumstances, is a fault, on the one hand, not less to be avoided, than the conciseness for which Voltaire is blamed, on the other. In the Aeneid *, Barce, the nurse of Sichaeus, whom we never hear of before or after, is introduced for a purpose not more important than to call Anna to her sister Dido. And that it might not be thought unjust in Dido, even in this trivial incident, to prefer her husband's nurse be­fore her own, the poet takes care to in­form his reader, that Dido's nurse was dead. To this I must oppose a beautiful passage in the same book, where, after Di­do's last speech, the poet, supposing her [Page 180] dead, hastens to describe the lamentation of her attendants:

Dixerat: atque illam media inter talia ferro
Collapsam aspiciunt comites, ensemque cruore
Spumantem, sparsasque manus. It clamor ad alta
Atria, concussam bacchatur fama per urbem;
Lamentis gemituque et foemineo ululatu
Tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus aether.
Lib. 4. l. 663.

As an appendix to the foregoing rule, I add the following observation, That to raise a sudden and strong impression, some single circumstance happily selected, has more power than the most laboured description. Macbeth, mentioning to his lady some voices he heard while he was murdering the King, says,

There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cry'd Murder!
They wak'd each other; and I stood and heard them;
But they did say their prayers, and address them Again to sleep.
There are two lodg'd together.
[Page 181]
One cry'd, God bless us! and, Amen! the other;
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
Listening their fear, I could not say, Amen,
When they did say, God bless us.
Consider it not so deeply.
But wherefore could not I pronounce, Amen?
I had most need of blessing, and Amen
Stuck in my throat.
These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
Methought, I heard a voice cry,
Sleep no more!
Macbeth doth murder sleep, &c.
Act 2. sc. 3.

Describing Prince Henry:

I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm'd,
Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury;
And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
As if an angel dropt down from the clouds,
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.
First Part Henry IV. act 4. sc. 2.

[Page 182]
King Henry.
Lord Cardinal, if thou think'st on heaven's bliss,
Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope.
He dies, and makes no sign!
Second Part Henry VI. act 3. sc. 10.

The same author, speaking ludicrously of an army debilitated with diseases, says,

Half of them dare not shake the snow from off their cassocks, lest they shake themselves to pieces.

To draw a character is the master-stroke of description. In this Tacitus excels: his figures are natural, distinct, and com­plete; not a feature wanting or misplaced. Shakespear however exceeds Tacitus in the sprightliness of his figures: some characte­ristical circumstance is generally invented or laid hold of, which paints more to the life than many words. The following instan­ces will explain my meaning, and at the same time prove my observation to be just.

Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice,
By being peevish? I tell that what, Anthonio,
[Page 183] (I love thee, and it is my love that speaks):
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond;
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!
O my Anthonio, I do know of those,
That therefore only are reputed wise,
For saying nothing.
Merchant of Venice, act 1. sc. 1.


Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice: his reasons are two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.


In the following passage a character is com­pleted by a single stroke.


O the mad days that I have spent; and to see how many of mine old acquaintance are dead.


We shall all follow, Cousin.


Certain, 'tis certain, very sure, very [Page 184] sure; Death (as the Psalmist saith) is certain to all: all shall die. How a good yoke of bullocks at Stamford fair?


Truly, Cousin, I was not there.


Death is certain. Is old Double of your town living yet.


Dead, Sir.


Dead! see, see; he drew a good bow: and dead? He shot a fine shoot. How a score of ewes now?


Thereafter as they be. A score of good ewes may be worth ten pounds.


And is old Double dead?

Second Part Henry IV. act 3. sc. 3.

Describing a jealous husband:

Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of such places, and goes to them by his note. There is no hiding you in the house.

Merry Wives of Windsor, act 4. sc. 3.

Congreve has an inimitable stroke of this kind in his comedy of Love for Love:

Ben Legend.

Well, father, and how do all at home? how does brother Dick, and brother Val?

Sir Sampson.

Dick, body o'me, Dick has been [Page 185] dead these two years, I writ you word, when you were at Leghorn.


Mess, that's true; marry, I had forgot. Dick's dead, as you say.

Act 3. sc. 6.

Falstaff speaking of Ancient Pistol,

He's no swaggerer, hostess; a tame cheater i'faith; you may stroak him as gently as a puppey-grey­hound; he will not swagger with a Barbary hen, if her feathers turn back in any shew of resistence.

Second Part Henry IV. act 2. sc. 9.

Some writers, through heat of imagina­tion, fall into contradictions; some are guilty of downright inconsistencies; and some even rave like madmen. Against such ca­pital errors one cannot be warned to better purpose than by collecting instances. The first shall be of a contradiction, the most ve­nial of all. Virgil speaking of Neptune:

Interea magno misceri murmure pontum
Emissamque hyemem sensit Neptunus, et imis
Stagna refusa vadis: graviter commotu [...], et alto
Prospiciens, summâ placidum caput extulit undâ.
Aeneid. i. 128.

[Page 186] Again,

When first young Maro, in his boundless mind,
A work t'outlast immortal Rome design'd.
Essay on Criticism, l. 130.

The following examples are of downright inconsistencies.

Alii pulsis e tormento catenis discerpti sectique, dimidiato corpore pugnabant sibi superstites, ac per­emptae partis ultores.

Strada, Dec. 2. L. 2.

Il povér huomo, che non sen' era accorto,
Andava combattendo, ed era morto.

He fled, but flying, left his life behind.
Iliad xi. 443.

Full through his neck the weighty falchion sped:
Along the pavement roll'd the mutt'ring head.
Odyssey xxii. 365.

The last article is of raving like one mad. Cleopatra speaking to the aspick:

—Welcome, thou kind deceiver,
Thou best of thieves; who, with an easy key,
Do'st open life, and unperceiv'd by us
Ev'n steal us from ourselves; discharging so
[Page 187] Death's dreadful office, better than himself,
Touching our limbs so gently into slumber,
That Death stands by, deceiv'd by his own image,
And thinks himself but Sleep.
Dryden, All for Love, act 5.

Reasons that are common and known to every person, ought to be taken for granted: to express them is childish and interrupts the narration. Quintus Curtius, relating the bat­tle of Issus:

Jam in conspectu, sed extra teli jactum, utraque acies erat; quum priores Persae inconditum et tru­cem sustulere clamorem. Redditur et a Macedo­nibus major, exercitus impar numero, sed jugis montium vastisque saltibus repercussus: quippe sem­per circumjecta nemora petraeque, quantamcumque accepere vocem, multiplicato sono referunt.

Having discussed what observations oc­curred upon the thoughts or things expres­sed, I proceed to what more peculiarly con­cern the language or verbal dress. The lan­guage proper for expressing passion is the subject of a former chapter. Several obser­vations there made, are applicable to the present subject; particularly, That words are [Page 188] intimately connected with the ideas they re­present, and that the representation cannot be perfect unless the emotions raised by the sound and the sense be concordant. It is not sufficient, that the sense be clearly expres­sed: the words must correspond to the sub­ject in every particular. An elevated sub­ject requires an elevated style: what is fa­miliar, ought to be familiarly expressed: a subject that is serious and important, ought to be cloathed in plain nervous language: a description, on the other hand, addressed to the imagination, is susceptible of the high­est ornaments that sounding words, meta­phor, and figurative expression, can be­stow upon it.

I shall give a few examples of the fore­going doctrine. A poet of any genius will not readily dress a high subject in low words; and yet blemishes of this kind are found e­ven in some classical works. Horace ob­serving that men, perfectly satisfied with themselves, are seldom so with their condi­tion, introduces Jupiter indulging to each his own choice:

[Page 189]
Jam faciam quod vultis: eris tu, qui modo miles,
Mercator: tu, consultus modo, rusticus: hinc vos,
Vos hinc mutatis discedite partibus: eia,
Quid? statis? nolint: atqui licet esse beatis.
Quid causae est, merito quin illis Jupiter ambas
Iratus buccas inflet? neque se fore posthac
Tam facilem dicat, votis ut praebeat aurem?
Serm. lib. 1. sat. 1. l. 16.

Jupiter in wrath puffing up both cheeks, is a ludicrous expression, far from suitable to the gravity of the subject: every one must feel the discordance. The following cou­plet, sinking far below the subject, is not less ludicrous.

Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
Yet ne'er looks forward farther than his nose.
Essay on Man, ep. iv. 223.

On the other hand, to raise the expres­sion above the tone of the subject, is a fault than which none is more common. Take the following instances.

Orcan le plus fidéle à server ses desseins,
Né sous le ciel brûlant des plus noirs Affricains.
Bajazet, act 3. sc. 8.

[Page 190]
Les ombres par trois fois ont obscurci les cieux
Depuis que le sommeil n'est entré dans vos yeux;
Et le jour a trois fois chassé la nuit obscure
Depuis que votre corps languit sans nourriture.
Phedra, act 1. sc. 3.

Ce mortel, qui montra tant de zéle pour moi,
Vit-il encore?
—Il voit l'astre qui vous éclaire.
Esther, act 2. sc. 3.

Oui, c'est Agamemnon, c'est ton Roi qui t'eveille;
Viens, reconnois la voix qui frape ton oreille.

—In the inner room
I spy a winking lamp, that weakly strikes
The ambient air, scarce kindling into light.
Southerne, Fate of Capua, act 3.

In the funeral orations of the Bishop of Meaux, the following passages are raised far above the tone of the subject.

L'Ocean etonné de se voir traversé tant de fois en des appareils si divers, et pour des causes si dif­ferentes, &c.

p. 6.

[Page 191]

Grande Reine, je satisfais à vos plus tendres de­sirs, quand je célébre ce monarque; et ce coeur qui n'a jamais vêcu que pour lui, se eveille, tout poudre qu'il est, et devient sensible, même sous ce drap mortuaire, au nom d'un epoux si cher.

p. 32.

Montesquieu, in a didactic work, L'esprit des Loix, gives too great indulgence to imagina­tion: the tone of his language swells fre­quently above his subject. I give an ex­ample:

Mr le Comte de Boulainvilliers et Mr l'Abbé Dubos ont fait chacun un systeme, dont l'un sem­ble être une conjuration contre le tiers-etat, et l'autre une conjuration contre la noblesse. Lorsque le Soleil donna à Phaéton son char à conduire, il lui dit: Si vous montez trop haut, vous brulerez la demeure céleste; si vous descendez trop bas, vous réduirez en cendres la terre: n'allez point trop a droite, vous tomberiez dans la constellation du serpent; n'allez point trop à gauche, vous iriez dans celle de l'autel: tenez-vous entre les deux.

L. ch. 10.

The following passage, intended, one would imagine, as a receipt to boil water, is alto­gether [Page 192] burlesque by the laboured elevation of the diction.

A massy caldron of stupendous frame
They brought, and plac'd it o'er the rising flame:
Then heap the lighted wood; the flame divides
Beneath the vase, and climbs around the sides:
In its wide womb they pour the rushing stream:
The boiling water bubbles to the brim.
Pope's Homer, book xviii. 405.

In a passage near the beginning of the 4th book of Telamachus, one feels a sudden bound upward without preparation, which accords not with the subject:

Claypso, qui avoit été jusqu'à ce moment immo­bile et transportée de plaisir en écoutant les avan­tures de Télémaque, l'interrompit pour lui faire prendre quelque repos. Il est tems, lui dit-elle, que vous alliez goûter la douceur du sommeil a­prés tant de travaux. Vous n'avez rien à craindre ici; tout vous est favorable. Abandonnez-vous donc à la joye. Goûtez la paix, et tous les autres dons des dieux dont vous allez être comblé. De­main, quand l'Aurore avec ses doigts de roses entr'ou­vrira les portes dorées de l'Orient, et que les chevaux du soleit sortans de l'onde amére répandront les flames [Page 193] du jour, pour chasser devant eux toutes les etoiles du ciel, nous reprendrons, mon cher Télémaque, l'histoire de vos malheurs.

This obviously is copied from a similar pas­sage in the Aeneid, which ought not to have been copied, because it lies open to the same censure: but the force of autho­rity is great.

At regina gravi jamdudum saucia cura,
Vulnus alit venis, & caeco carpitur igni.
Multa viri virtus animo, multusque recursat
Gentis honos: haerent infixi pectore vultus,
Verbaque: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem.
Postera Phoebea lustrabat lampade terras,
Humentemque Aurora polo dimoverat umbram;
Cum sic unanimem alloquitur malesana sororem:
Lib. iv. 1.

Take another example where the words rise above the subject:

Ainsi les peuples y accoururent bientôt en foule de toutes parts; le commerce de cette ville étoit semblable au flux et reflux de la mer. Les trésors y entroient comme les flots viennent l'un sur l'autre. Tout y etoit apporté et en sortoit librement: tout [Page 194] ce qui y entroit, étoit utile; toute ce qui en sor­toit, laissoit en sortant d'autres richesses en sa place. La justice sevére presidoit dans le port au milieu de tant de nations. La franchise, la bonne foi, la candeur, sembloient du haut de ces superbs tours ap­peller les marchands des terres les plus éloignées: chacun des ces marchands, soit qu'il vint des rives orientales où le soleil sort chaque jour du sein des ondes, soit qu'il fût parti de cette grande mer où le so­leil assé de son cours va eteindre ses feux, vivoit plaisible et en sureté dans Salente comme dans sa patrie!

Telemaque, l. 12.

The language of Homer is suited to his subject, not less accurately than the actions and sentiments of his heroes are to their characters. Virgil, in this particular, falls short of perfection: his language is stately throughout; and though he descends at times to the simplest branches of cookery, roasting and boiling for example, yet he ne­ver relaxes a moment from the high tone*. In adjusting his language to his subject, no writer equals Swift. I can recollect but one exception, which at the same time is far [Page 195] from being gross. The journal of a mo­dern lady, is composed in a style where sprightliness is blended with familiarity, perfectly suited to the subject. In one pas­sage, however, the poet assumes a higher tone, which corresponds neither to the sub­ject nor to the tone of language employ'd in the rest of that piece. The passage I have in view begins l. 116. ‘"But let me now a while survey," &c. and ends at l. 135.

It is proper to be observed upon this head, that writers of inferior rank are continually upon the stretch to enliven and enforce their subject by exaggeration and superlatives. This unluckily has an effect opposite to what is intended: the reader, disgusted with language that swells above the subject, is led by contrast to think more meanly of the subject than it may possibly deserve. A man of prudence, beside, will be not less careful to husband his strength in writing than in walking: a writer too liberal of su­perlatives, exhausts his whole stock upon ordinary incidents, and reserves no share to [Page 196] express, with greater energy, matters of importance*.

The power that language possesses to i­mitate thought, goes farther than to the ca­pital circumstances above mentioned: it reacheth even the slighter modifications. Slow action, for example, is imitated by words pronounced slow; labour or toil, by words harsh or rough in their sound. But this subject has been already handled.

In dialogue-writing, the condition of the speaker is chiefly to be regarded in framing the expression. The centinel in Hamlet, interrogated about the ghost, whether his watch had been quiet? answers with great [Page 197] propriety for a man in his station, ‘"Not a mouse stirring*."’

I proceed to a second remark, not less important than the former. No person of reflection but must be sensible, that an inci­dent makes a stronger impression on an eye-witness, than when heard at second hand. Writers of genius, sensible that the eye is the best avenue to the heart, repre­sent every thing as passing in our sight; and from readers or hearers, transform us, as it were, into spectators. A skilful writer conceals himself, and presents his person­ages. In a word, every thing becomes dra­matic as much as possible. Plutarch, de gloria Atheniensium, observes, that Thucy­dides makes his reader a spectator, and in­spires him with the same passions as if he were an eye-witness. I am intitled to [Page 198] make the same observation upon our coun­tryman Swift. From this happy talent a­rises that energy of style which is peculiar to him: he cannot always avoid narration; but the pencil is his choice, by which he bestows life and colouring upon his objects. Pope is richer in ornament, but possesses not in the same degree the talent of draw­ing from the life. A translation of the sixth satire of Horace, begun by the former and finished by the latter, affords the fairest opportunity for a comparison. Pope ob­viously imitates the picturesque manner of his friend: yet every one of taste must be sensible, that the imitation, though fine, falls short of the original. In other instan­ces, where Pope writes in his own style, the difference of manner is still more con­spicuous.

Abstract or general terms have no good effect in any composition for amusement; because it is only of particular objects that images can be formed*. Shakespear's style in that respect is excellent. Every article [Page 199] in his descriptions is particular, as in nature; and if accidentally a vague expression slip in, the blemish is extremely discernible by the bluntness of its impression. Take the fol­lowing example. Falstaff, excusing him­self for running away at a robbery, says,

By the Lord, I knew ye, as well as he that made ye. Why, hear ye, my masters; was it for me to kill the heir-apparent? should I turn upon the true prince? Why, thou knowest, I am as valiant as Hercules; but beware instinct, the lion will not touch the true prince: instinct is a great matter. I was a coward on instinct: I shall think the better of myself, and thee, during my life; I, for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince. But, by the Lord, lads, I am glad you have the money. Hostess, clap to the doors; watch to­night, pray to-morrow. Gallants, lads, boys, hearts of gold, all the titles of good fellowship come to you! What, shall we be merry? shall we have a play extempore?

First Part Henry IV. act 2. sc. 9.

The particular words I object to are, in­stinct is a great matter, which make but a poor figure, compared with the liveliness [Page 200] of the rest of the speech. It was one of Homer's advantages, that he wrote before general terms were multiplied: the superior genius of Shakespear displays itself in avoid­ing them after they were multiplied. Ad­dison describes the family of Sir Roger de Coverley in the following words.

You would take his valet de chambre for his brother, his butler is gray-headed, his groom is one of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks of a privy counsellor.

Spectator, No 106.

The description of the groom is less lively than of the others; plainly because the ex­pression, being vague and general, tends not to form any image. ‘"Dives opum variarum*,"’ is an expression still more vague; and so are the following.

—Maecenas, mearum
Grande decus, columenque rerum.
Horat. Carm. l. 2. ode 17.

[Page 201]
—et side Teîa
Dices laborantes in uno
Penelopen, vitreamque Circen.
Horat. Carm. l. 1. ode 17.

In the fine arts, it is a rule, to put the capital objects in the strongest point of view; and even to present them oftener than once, where it can be done. In hi­story-painting, the principal figure is placed in the front, and in the best light: an e­questrian statue is placed in a centre of streets, that it may be seen from many pla­ces at once. In no composition is there a greater opportunity for this rule than in writing:

—Sequitur pulcherrimus Astur,
Astur equo fidens et versicoloribus armis.
Aeneid. x. 180.

—Full many a lady
I've ey'd with best regard, and many a time
Th' harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
Brought my too diligent ear, for several virtues
Have I lik'd several women, never any
With so full soul, but some defect in her
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she ow'd,
[Page 202] And put it to the foil. But you, O you,
So perfect, and so peerless, are created
Of every creature's best.
The Tempest, act 3. sc. 1.

With thee conversing I forget all time;
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flow'r,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertil earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild, the silent night
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heav'n, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistering with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night,
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,
Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.
Paradise Lost, book 4. l. 634.

What mean ye, that ye use this proverb, The fathers have eaten four grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord [Page 203] God, ye shall not have occasion to use this proverb in Israel. If a man keep my judgements to deal truly, he is just, he shall surely live. But if he be a robber, a shedder of blood; if he have eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour's wife; if he have oppressed the poor and needy, have spoiled by violence, have not restored the pledge, have lift up his eyes to idols, have given forth upon usury, and have taken increase: shall he live? he shall not live: he shall surely die; and his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins, and considereth, and doth not such like; that hath not eaten upon the mountains, hath not lift up his eyes to idols, nor defiled his neighbour's wife, hath not oppressed any nor with-held the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and covered the naked with a gar­ment; that hath not received usury nor increase, that hath executed my judgments, and walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live. The soul that sin­neth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the ini­quity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. Have I any pleasure that the wicked should die? saith the Lord [Page 204] God; and not that he should return from his ways and live.

Ezekiel xviii.

The repetitions in Homer, which are fre­quent, have been the occasion of much cri­ticism. Suppose we were at a loss about the reason, might not taste be sufficient to justify them? At the same time, one must be devoid of understanding not to be sen­sible, that they make the narration drama­tic; and give an air of truth, by making things appear as passing in our sight.

A concise comprehensive style is a great ornament in narration; and a superfluity of unnecessary words, not less than of circum­stances, a great nuisance. A judicious se­lection of the striking circumstances, cloath­ed in a nervous style, is delightful. In this style, Tacitus excels all writers, ancient and modern. Instances are numberless: take the following specimen.

Crebra hinc praelia, et saepius in modum latroci­nii: per saltus, per paludes; ut cuique fors aut virtus: temere, proviso, ob iram, ob praedam, jus­su, et aliquando ignaris ducibus.

Annal. lib. 12. § 39.

[Page 205] If a concise or nervous style be a beauty, tautology must be a blemish. And yet writers, fettered by verse, are not sufficient­ly careful to avoid this slovenly practice: they may be pitied, but they cannot be justified. Take for a specimen the follow­ing instances, from the best poet, for versi­fication at least, that England has to boast of:

High on his helm celestial lightnings play,
His beamy shield emits a living ray,
Th' unweary'd blaze incessant streams supplies,
Like the red star that fires th' autumnal skies.
Iliad v. 5.

Strength and omnipotence invest thy throne.
Iliad viii. 576.

So silent fountains, from a rock's tall head,
In sable streams soft-trickling waters shed.
Iliad ix. 19.

His clanging armour rung.
Iliad xii. 94.

Fear on their cheek, and horror in their eye.
Iliad xv. 4.

[Page 206]
The blaze of armour flash'd against the day.
Iliad xvii. 736.

As when the piercing blasts of Boreas blow.
Iliad xix. 380.

And like the moon, the broad refulgent shield
Blaz'd with long rays, and gleam'd athwart the field.
Iliad xix. 402.

No—could our swiftness o'er the winds prevail,
Or beat the pinions of the western gale,
All were in vain—
Iliad xix. 460.

The humid sweat from ev'ry pore descends.
Iliad xxiii. 829.

Redundant epithets, such as humid, in the last citation, are by Quintilian disallowed to orators, but indulged to poets*; because his favourite poets, in a few instances, are reduced to such epithets for the sake of versification. For instance, Prata canis albicant pruinis, of Horace, and liquidos fontes, of Virgil.

As an apology for such careless expres­sions, it may well suffice, that Pope, in [Page 207] submitting to be a translator, acts below his genius. In a translation, it is hard to re­quire the same spirit or accuracy, that is chearfully bestowed on an original work. And to support the reputation of this au­thor, I shall give some instances from Vir­gil and Horace, more faulty by redundancy than any of those above mentioned:

Saepe etiam immensum coelo venit agmen aquarum,
Et foedam glomerant tempestatem imbribus atris
Collectae ex alto nubes: ruit arduus aether,
Et pluviâ ingenti sata laeta, boumque labores Diluit.
Georg. lib. i. 322.

Postquam altum tenuere rates, nec jam amplius ullae
Apparent terrae; coelum undique et undique pon­tus:
Tum mihi coeruleus supra caput astitit imber,
Noctem hyememque ferens: et inhorruit unda te­nebris.
Aeneid. lib. iii. 191.

—Hinc tibi copia
Manabit ad plenum benigno
Ruris honorum opulenta cornu.
Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 17.

[Page 208]
Videre fessos vomerem inversum boves
Collo trahentes languido.
Horat. Epod. ii. 63.

Here I can luckily apply Horace's rule a­gainst himself:

Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures.
Serm. lib. 1. sat. x. 9.

I close this chapter with a curious in­quiry. An object, however ugly to the sight, is far from being so when repre­sented by colours or by words. What is the cause of this difference? The cause with respect to painting is obvious. A good picture, whatever the subject be, is agree­able, because of the pleasure we take in imi­tation: the agreeableness of imitation over­balances the disagreeableness of the subject; and the picture upon the whole is agree­able. It requires a greater compass to ex­plain the cause with respect to the description of an ugly object. To connect individuals in the social state, no one particular contri­butes more than language, by the power it [Page 209] possesses of an expeditious communication of thought and a lively representation of transactions. But nature hath not been sa­tisfied to recommend language by its utility merely: it is made susceptible of many beauties that have no relation to utility, which are directly felt without the inter­vention of any reflection*. And this un­folds the mystery; for the pleasure of lan­guage is so great, as in a lively description to overbalance the disagreeableness of the image raised by it. This however is no encouragement to deal in disagreeable sub­jects; for the pleasure is out of sight greater where the subject and the description are both of them agreeable.

The following description is upon the whole agreeable, though the subject de­scribed is in itself dismal.

Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish'd, rowling in the fiery gulf
Confounded though immortal: but his doom
[Page 210] Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
Mix'd with obdurate pride and stedfast hate:
At once as far as angels ken he views
The dismal situation waste and wild:
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great furnace flam'd; yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd only to discover sights of wo,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd:
Such place eternal justice had prepar'd
For those rebellious.
Paradise Lost, book 1. l. 50.

An unmanly depression of spirits in time of danger is not an agreeable sight; and yet a fine description or representation of it will be relished:

K. Richard.
What must the King do now? must he submit?
The King shall do it: must he be depos'd?
[Page 211] The King shall be contented: must he lose
The name of King? O' God's name, let it go:
I'll give my jewels for a set of beads;
My gorgeous palace, for a hermitage;
My gay apparel, for an almsman's gown;
My figur'd goblets, for a dish of wood;
My sceptre, for a palmer's walking staff;
My subjects, for a pair of carved saints;
And my large kingdom, for a little grave;
A little, little grave;—an obscure grave.
Or I'll be bury'd in the King's highway;
Some way of common tread, where subjects feet
May hourly trample on their sovereign's head:
For on my heart they tread now, whilst I live;
And, bury'd once, why not upon my head?
Richard II. act 3. sc. 6.

Objects that strike terror in a spectator, have in poetry and painting a fine effect. The picture, by raising a slight emotion of terror, agitates the mind; and in that con­dition every beauty makes a deep impression. May not contrast heighten the pleasure, by opposing our present security to the danger we would be in by encountering the ob­ject represented?

[Page 212]
—The other shape,
If shape it might be call'd, that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart.
Paradise Lost, book 2. l. 666.

—Now storming fury rose,
And clamour such as heard in heav'n till now
Was never, arms on armour clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots rag'd; dire was the noise
Of conflict; over-head the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rush'd
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage; all heav'n
Resounded, and had earth been then, all earth
Had to her centre shook.
Paradise Lost, book 6. l. 207.

—But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
[Page 213] Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotty and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.
Hamlet, act 1. sc. 8.

Poor Desdemona! I'm glad thy fa­ther's dead:
Thy match was mortal to him; and pure grief
Shore his old thread in twain. Did he live now,
This sight would make him do a desp'rate turn:
Yea, curse his better angel from his side,
And fall to reprobation.
Othello, act 5. sc. 8.

Objects of horror must be excepted from the foregoing theory; for no description, how­ever masterly, is sufficient to overbalance the disgust raised even by the idea of such an ob­ject. Every thing horrible ought therefore to be avoided in a description. Nor is this a severe law: the poet will avoid such scenes for his own sake, as well as for that of his reader; and to vary his descriptions, nature affords plenty of objects that disgust [Page 214] us in some degree without raising horror. I am obliged therefore to condemn the pic­ture of sin in the second book of Paradise Lost, though drawn with a masterly hand. The original would be a horrible spectacle; and the horror is not much softened in the copy.

—Pensive here I sat
Alone, but long I sat not, till my womb
Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown
Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
At last this odious offspring whom thou seest,
Thine own begotten, breaking violent way,
Tore through my intrails, that with fear and pain
Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
Transform'd; but he my inbred enemy
Forth issu'd, brandishing his fatal dart,
Made to destroy: I fled, and cry'd out Death;
Hell trembl'd at the hideous name, and sigh'd
From all her caves, and back resounded Death.
I fled, but he pursu'd, (though more, it seems,
Inflam'd with lust than rage), and swifter far,
Me overtook, his mother all dismay'd,
And in embraces forcible and foul
Ingendring with me, of that rape begot
These yelling monsters that with ceaseless cry
Surround me, as thou saw'st, hourly conceiv'd
[Page 215] And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
To me; for when they list, into the womb
That bred them they return, and howl and gnaw
My bowels, their repast; then bursting forth
A fresh with conscious terrors vex me round,
That rest or intermission none I find.
Before mine eyes in opposition sits
Grim Death, my son and foe, who sets them on,
And me his parent would full soon devour
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involv'd; and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
Whenever that shall be.
Book 2. l. 777.

Iago's character in the tragedy of Othello, is so monstrous and satanical, as not to be suf­ferable in a representation: not even Shake­spear's masterly hand can make the picture agreeable.

Though the objects introduced in the fol­lowing scenes, are not altogether so horrible as Sin is in Milton's picture; yet with every person of taste, disgust will be the prevail­ing emotion.

—Strophades Graio stant nomine dictae
Insulae Ionio in magno: quas dira Celaeno,
[Page 216] Harpyiaeque colunt aliae: Phineia postquam
Clausa domus, mensasque metu liquere priores.
Tristius haud illis monstrum, nec saevior ulla
Pestis et ira Deûm Stygiis sese extulit undis.
Virginei volucrum vultus, foedissima ventris
Proluvies, uncaeque manus, et pallida semper.
Ora fame.
Huc ubi delati portus intravimus: ecce
Laeta boum passim campis armenta videmus,
Caprigenumque pecus, nullo custode, per herbas.
Irruimus ferro, et Divos ipsumque vocamus
In praedam partemque Jovem: tunc littore curvo
Extruimusque toros, dapibusque epulamur opimis.
At subitae horrifico lapsu de montibus adsunt
Harpyiae: et magnis quatiunt clangoribus alas:
Diripiuntque dapes, contactuque omnia foedant
Immundo: tum vox tetrum dira inter odorem.
Aeneid. lib. iii. 210.

Sum patria ex Ithaca, comes infelicis Ulyssei,
Nomen Achemenides: Trojam, genitore Adamasto
Paupere (mansissetque utinam fortuna!) profectus.
Hic me, dum trepidi crudelia limina linquunt,
Immemores socii vasto Cyclopis in antro
Deseruere. Domus sanie dapibusque cruentis,
Intus opaca, ingens: ipse arduus, altaque pulsat
Sidera: (Dii, talem terris avertite pestem)
Nec visu facilis, nec dictu affabilis ulli.
Visceribus miserorum, et sanguine vescitur atro.
[Page 217] Vidi egomet, duo de numero cum corpora nostro,
Prensa manu magna, medio resupinus in antro,
Frangeret ad saxum, sanieque aspersa natarent
Limina: vidi, atro cum membra fluentia tabo
Manderet, et tepidi tremerent sub dentibus artus.
Haud impune quidem: nec talia passus Ulysses,
Oblitusve sui est Ithacus discrimine tanto.
Nam simul expletus dapibus, vinoque sepultus
Cervicem inflexam posuit, jacuitque per antrum
Immensus, saniem eructans, ac frusta cruento
Per somnum commixta mero; nos, magna precati
Numina, sortitique vices, unà undique circum
Fundimur, et telo lumen terebramus acuto
Ingens, quod torva solum sub fronte latebat.
Aeneid. lib. iii. 613.

CHAP. XXII. Epic and Dramatic Compositions.

TRAGEDY differs from the epic more in form than in substance. The ends proposed by each are instruc­tion and amusement; and each of them co­py human actions as means to bring about these ends. They differ in the manner on­ly of copying. Epic poetry deals in narra­tion: Tragedy represents its facts as trans­acted in our sight. In the former, the poet introduces himself as an historian: in the latter he presents his actors and never him­self*.

[Page 219] This difference, regarding form only, may be thought slight; but the effects it occasions, are by no means so. What we see, makes a stronger impression than what we learn from others. A narrative poem is a story told by another: facts and inci­dents passing upon the stage, come under our own observation; and are beside much enlivened by action and gesture, expressive of many sentiments beyond the reach of language

[Page 220] A dramatic composition has another pro­perty, independent altogether of action. A dialogue makes a deeper impression than a narration: because in the former persons ex­press their own sentiments; whereas in the latter sentiments are related at second hand. For that reason, Aristotle, the father of critics, lays it down as a rule, That in an e­pic poem the author ought to take every opportunity to introduce his actors, and to confine the narrative part within the narrow­est bounds*. Homer understood perfect­ly the advantage of this method; and his poems are both of them in a great measure dramatic. Lucan runs to the opposite ex­treme; and is guilty of a still greater fault: the Pharsalia is stuffed with cold and lan­guid reflections; the merit of which the au­thor assumes to himself, and deigns not to share with his personages. Nothing can be more impertinent, than a chain of such re­flections, which suspend the battle of Phar­salia after the leaders had made their speech­es, [Page 221] and the two armies are ready to en­gage*.

Aristotle, from the nature of the fable, divides tragedy into simple and complex. But it is of greater moment, with respect to dramatic as well as epic poetry, to found a distinction upon the different ends attained by such compositions. A poem, whether dramatic or epic, that hath no tendency be­yond moving the passions and exhibiting pictures of virtue and vice, may be distin­guished by the name of pathetic. But where a story is purposely contrived to illu­strate some important lesson of morality, by showing the natural connection betwixt dis­orderly passions and external misfortunes, such composition may be denominated mo­ral . It indeed conveys moral instruc­tion [Page 222] with a perspicuity that is not exceeded by the most accurate reasoning; and makes a deeper impression than any moral dis­course can do. To be satisfied of this, we need but reflect, that a man whose affec­tions are justly balanced, hath a better chance to escape misfortunes, than one who is a slave to every passion. Indeed, no­thing is more evident, than the natural connection that vice hath with misery, and virtue with happiness; and such connec­tion may be illustrated, by stating a fact as well as by urging an argument. Let us as­sume, for example, the following moral truths, That discord among the chiefs, ren­ders ineffectual all common measures; and that the consequences of a slightly-founded quarrel, fostered by pride and arrogance, are not less fatal than those of the grossest injury. These truths may be inculcated, by the quar­rel betwixt Agamemnon and Achilles at the siege of Troy. In this view, it ought to be the poet's chief aim, to invent proper cir­cumstances, [Page 223] presenting to our view the na­tural consequences of such discord. These circumstances must seem to arise in the com­mon course of human affairs: no acciden­tal or unaccountable event ought to be in­dulged; for the necessary or probable con­nection betwixt vice and misery, is learned from no events but what are governed by the characters and passions of the persons represented. A real event of which we see no cause, may be a lesson to us; because what hath happened may again happen: but this cannot be inferred from a story that is known to be fictitious.

Many are the good effects of such com­positions. A pathetic composition, whe­ther epic or dramatic, tends to a habit of virtue, by exciting emotions that produce good actions, and avert us from those that are vicious or irregular*. It likewise, by its frequent pictures of human woes, hu­manizes the mind, and fortifies us in bear­ing our own misfortunes. A moral com­position must obviously produce the same good effects, because by being moral it doth [Page 224] not cease to be pathetic. It enjoys beside an excellence peculiar to itself: for it not only improves the heart, as above mention­ed, but instructs the head by the moral it contains. For my part, I cannot imagine any entertainment more suited to a rational being, than a work thus happily illustrating some moral truth; where a number of per­sons of different characters are engaged in an important action, some retarding, others promoting, the great catastrophe; and where there is dignity of style as well as of matter. A work of this kind, has our sympathy at command, and can put in mo­tion the whole train of the social affections. We have at the same time great mental en­joyment, in perceiving every event and e­very subordinate incident connected with its proper cause. Our curiosity is by turns ex­cited and gratified; and our delight is con­summated at the close, upon finding, from the characters and situations exhibited at the commencement, that every circumstance down to the final catastrophe is natural, and that the whole in conjunction make a regu­lar chain of causes and effects.

[Page 225] Considering an epic and dramatic poem as the same in substance, and having the same aim or end, it might be thought that they are equally fitted for the same subjects. But considering their difference as to form, there will be found reason to correct that thought, at least in some degree. Many subjects may indeed be treated with equal advantage in either form; but the subjects are still more numerous for which one of the forms is better qualified than the other; and there are subjects proper for the one and not for the other. To give some slight notion of the difference, as there is no room here for enlarging upon every article, I ob­serve, that dialogue is better qualified for expressing sentiments, and narrative for dis­playing facts. These peculiarities tend to confine each within certain limits. He­roism, magnanimity, undaunted courage, and the whole tribe of the elevated virtues, figure best in action: tender passions and the whole tribe of sympathetic affections, figure best in sentiment. What we feel is the most remarkable in the latter: what we perform is the most remarkable in the [Page 226] former. It clearly follows, that tender passions are more peculiarly the province of tragedy, grand and heroic actions of epic poetry*.

I have no occasion to say more upon the epic, considered as peculiarly adapted to certain subjects. But as dramatic subjects are more complex, I must take a narrower view of them; which I do the more wil­lingly, in order to clear a point thrown into great obscurity by critics.

In the chapter of emotions and passions, it is occasionally shown, that the subject best fitted for tragedy is the story of a man who has himself been the cause of his mis­fortune. But this man must neither be deeply guilty nor altogether innocent. The misfortune must be occasioned by a fault in­cident to human nature, and therefore ve­nial. Misfortunes of this kind, call forth the whole force of the social affections, and [Page 227] interest the spectator in the warmest man­ner. An accidental misfortune, if not ex­termely singular, doth not greatly move our pity. The person who suffers, being inno­cent, is freed from the greatest of all tor­ments, viz. the anguish of mind occasioned by remorse:

Poco é funesta
Laltrui fortuna,
Quando non resta
Ragione alcuna
Ne di pentirsi, né darrossir.

A criminal, on the other hand, who brings misfortunes upon himself, excites little pity, for a different reason. His re­morse, it is true, aggravates his distress, and swells the first emotions of pity: but then our hatred to the criminal blending with pi­ty, blunts its edge considerably. Misfor­tunes that are not innocent nor highly cri­minal, partake the advantages of each ex­treme: they are attended with remorse to embitter the distress, which raises our pity to a great height; and the slight indignation we have at a venial fault, detracts not sen­sibly [Page 228] from our pity. For this reason, the happiest of all subjects for tragedy, if such a one could be invented, would be where a man of integrity falls into a great misfortune by doing an innocent action, but which by some singular means he conceives to be criminal. His remorse aggravates his di­stress; and our compassion, unrestrained by indignation, rises to its highest pitch. Pity comes thus to be the ruling passion of a pa­thetic tragedy; and by proper representa­tion, may be raised to a height scarce ex­ceeded by any thing felt in real life. A moral tragedy takes in a larger field; for, beside exercising our pity, it raises another passion, selfish indeed, but which deserves to be cherished equally with the social af­fections. When a misfortune is the natu­ral consequence of some wrong bias in the temper, every spectator who is conscious of some such defect in himself, takes the a­larm, and considers that he is liable to the same misfortune. This consideration raises in him an emotion of fear or terror; and it is by this emotion, frequently reiterated in a variety of moral tragedies, that the [Page 229] spectators are put upon their guard against the disorders of passion.

The commentators upon Aristotle and o­ther critics, have been much graveled a­bout the account given of tragedy by this author, ‘"That by means of pity and terror it refines in us all sorts of passion."’ But no one who has a clear conception of the end and effects of a good tragedy, can have any difficulty about Aristotle's meaning. Our pity is engaged for the persons represented, and our terror is upon our own account. Pity indeed is here made to stand for all the sympathetic emotions, because of these it is the capital. There can be no doubt, that our sympathetic emotions are refined or im­proved by daily exercise; and in what man­ner our other passions are refined by terror I have just now said. One thing is certain, that no other meaning can justly be given to the foregoing doctrine than that now mentioned; and that it was really Aristotle's meaning, appears from his 13th chapter, where he delivers several propositions agree­able to the doctrine as here explained. These, at the same time, I the rather chuse [Page 230] to mention; because, so far as authority can go, they confirm the foregoing reason­ing about the proper subjects for tragedy. His first proposition is, That it being the province of tragedy to excite pity and ter­ror, an innocent person falling into adversi­ty ought never to be the subject. This proposition is a necessary consequence of his doctrine as explained: a subject of this nature may indeed excite pity and terror; but the former in an inferior de­gree, and the latter in no degree for moral instruction. The second proposition is, That we must not represent a wicked per­son emerging from misery to good fortune. This excites neither terror nor compassion, nor is agreeable in any respect. The third is, That the misfortunes of a wicked person ought not to be represented. Such representation may be agreeable in some measure upon a principle of justice: but it will not move our pity; or any degree of ter­ror, except in those of the same vicious dispo­sition with the person represented. His last proposition is, That the only character fit for [Page 231] representation lies in the middle, neither e­minently good nor eminently bad; where the misfortune is not the effect of delibe­rate vice, but of some involuntary fault, as our author expresses it*. The only objec­tion I find to Aristotle's account of tragedy, is, that he confines it within too narrow bounds, by refusing admittance to the pa­thetic kind. For if terror be essential to tragedy, no representation deserves that name, but where the misfortunes exhibited are caused by a wrong balance of mind, or some disorder in the internal constitution. Such misfortunes always suggest moral in­struction; and by such misfortunes only can terror be excited for our improvement.

Thus Aristotle's four propositions above mentioned, relate solely to tragedies of the moral kind. Those of the pathetic kind, are not confined within so narrow limits. Subjects fitted for the theatre, are not in such plenty, as to make us reject innocent [Page 232] misfortunes which rouse our sympathy, though they inculcate no moral. With re­spect to subjects of this kind, it may indeed be a doubtful question, whether the con­clusion ought not always to be happy. Where a person of integrity is represented as suffering to the end under misfortunes purely accidental, we depart discontented, and with some obscure sense of injustice; for seldom is man so submissive to the course of Providence, as not to revolt against the tyranny and vexations of blind chance: he will be inclined to say, This ought not to be. I give for an example the Romeo and Juliet of Shakespear, where the fatal catastrophe is occasioned by Friar Laurence's coming to the monument a minute too late. Such a story we think of with regret: we are vexed at the unlucky chance, and go away dissatisfied. This is a temper of mind which ought not to be cherished; and for that reason, I vote for excluding stories of this kind from the theatre. The misfor­tunes of a virtuous person arising from ne­cessary causes, or from a chain of unavoid­able circumstances, will, I am apt to think, [Page 233] be considered in a different light. Chance affords always a gloomy prospect, and in every instance gives an impression of anar­chy and misrule. A regular chain, on the other hand, of causes and effects, directed by the general laws of nature, never fails to suggest the hand of Providence; to which we submit without resentment, being con­scious that submission is our duty*. For that reason, we are not dissatisfied with the distresses of Voltaire's Mariamne, though redoubled on her till the moment of her death, without the least fault or failing on her part. Her misfortunes are owing to a cause extremely natural, and not unfre­quent, the jealousy of a barbarous husband. The fate of Desdemona in the Moor of Ve­nice, affects us in the same manner. We are not so easily reconciled to the fate of Cordelia in King Lear: the causes of her misfortune, are by no means so evident, as to exclude the gloomy notion of chance. In short, it appears, that a perfect charac­ter suffering under misfortunes is qualified [Page 234] for being the subject of a pathetic tragedy, provided chance be excluded. Nor is it altogether inconsistent with a moral trage­dy: it may successfully be introduced as an under-part, supposing the chief place to be filled with an imperfect character from which a moral can be drawn. This is the case of Desdemona and Mariamne just now mentioned; and it is the case of Monimia and Belvidera, in Otway's two tragedies, The Orphan, and Venice preserv'd.

I had an early opportunity to unfold a curious doctrine, That fable operates on our passions, by representing its events as pass­ing in our sight, and by deluding us into a conviction of reality*. Hence, in epic and dramatic compositions, it is of importance to employ every means that may promote the delusion, such as the borrowing from history some noted event, with the addition of circumstances that may answer the au­thor's purpose. The principal facts are known to be true; and we are disposed to extend our belief to every circumstance. [Page 235] But in chusing a subject that makes a figure in history, greater precaution is necessary than where the whole is invented. In the first place, no circumstances must be added, but such as connect naturally with what are known to be true: history may be sup­plied, but it must not be contradicted. In the next place, a pure fable, entirely new with respect to the persons as well as the incidents, may be supposed an ancient or a modern story. But if the poet build upon truth, the subject he chuses must be distant in time, or at least in place; for he ought by all means to avoid the familiarity of persons and events nearly connected with us. Familiarity ought more especially to be avoided in an epic poem, the peculiar character of which is dignity and elevation. Modern manners make but a poor figure in such a poem*.

[Page 236] After Voltaire, no writer, it is probable, will think of erecting an epic poem upon a recent event in the history of his own country. But an event of this kind is per­haps not altogether unqualified for tragedy. It was admitted in Greece, and Shakespear has employ'd it successfully in several of his pieces. One advantage it possesses above fiction, that of more readily engaging our belief, which tends above any other parti­cular to raise our sympathy. The scene of comedy is generally laid at home: famili­arity is no objection; and we are peculiarly sensible of the ridicule of our own manners.

After a proper subject is chosen, there appears to me some delicacy in dividing it into parts. The conclusion of a book in an epic poem, or of an act in a play, cannot be altogether arbitrary; nor be intended for so slight a purpose as to make the parts of equal length. The supposed pause at the end of every book, and the real pause at the end of every act, ought always to coincide with some pause in the action. In this re­spect, [Page 237] a dramatic or epic poem, ought to resemble a sentence or period in language, divided into members that are distinguished from each other by regular pauses: or it ought to resemble a piece of music, having a full close at the end, preceded by imper­fect closes that contribute to the melody. Every act therefore ought to close with some incident that makes a pause in the action; for otherwise there can be no pretext for in­terrupting the representation. It would be absurd to break off in the very heat of action: against this every one would exclaim. The absurdity still remains, though the action relents, if it be not actually suspended for some time. This rule is also applicable to an epic poem; though there a deviation from the rule is less remarkable, because it is in the reader's power to hide the ab­surdity, by proceeding instantly to another book. The first book of the Paradise Lost, ends without any regular close, perfect or imperfect: it breaks off abruptly, where Satan, seated on his throne, is prepared to make a speech to the convocated host of the fall'n angels; and the second book be­gins [Page 238] with the speech. Milton seems to have copied the Aeneid, of which the two first books are divided much in the same manner. Neither is there any proper pause at the end of the fifth book of the Aeneid. There is no proper pause at end of the se­venth book of Paradise Lost, nor at the end of the eleventh.

Hitherto I have carried on together the epic and dramatic compositions. I proceed to handle them separately, and to mention circumstances peculiar to each, beginning with the epic kind. In a theatrical enter­tainment, which employs both the eye and the ear, it would be a monstrous ab­surdity to introduce upon the stage invisible beings in a visible shape. But it has been much disputed, whether such beings may not be properly introduced in an epic poem. If we rest upon the authority of practice, we must declare for the affirmative; and Boileau*, among many other critics, is a stout champion for this sort of machinery. But waving authority, which is apt to im­pose [Page 239] upon the judgement, let us draw what light we can from reason. I begin with a preliminary remark, That this matter is but indistinctly handled by critics. It is laid down above, that several passions incite the mind to animate its objects*: the moral virtues become so many goddesses, and even darts and arrows are inspired with life and action. But then it must not be overlook­ed, that such personification, being the work of imagination, is descriptive only, and assumes not even an appearance of truth. This is very different from what is termed machinery, where deities, angels, devils, or other supernatural powers, are introduced as real personages, mixing in the action, and contributing to the catastro­phe; and yet these two things are con­stantly jumbled together in the reasoning. The poetical privilege of animating insen­sible objects for the sake of description, can­not be controverted, because it is founded on a natural principle. But has the privi­lege of machinery, if it be a privilege, the [Page 240] same good foundation? Far from it: no­thing can be more unnatural. Its effects, at the same time, are deplorable. First, it gives an air of fiction to the whole; and prevents that impression of reality which is requisite to interest our affections, and to move our passions*. This of itself is suffi­cient to explode machinery, whatever en­tertainment it may give to readers of a fan­tastic taste or irregular imagination. And next, were it possible to disguise the fiction, and to delude us into a notion of reality, which I think can hardly be, an insuper­able objection would still remain, which is, that the aim or end of an epic poem can never be accomplished in any perfection where machinery is introduced. Virtuous emotions cannot be raised successfully but by the actions of those who are endued with passions and affections like our own, that is, by human actions. And as for moral in­struction, it is evident, that we can draw none from beings who act not upon the same principles with us. A fable in Aesop's [Page 241] manner is no objection to this reasoning. His lions, bulls, and goats, are truly men under disguise: they act and feel in every respect as human beings; and the moral we draw is founded on that supposition. Homer, it is true, introduces the gods into his fable; and he was authorised to take that liberty by the religion of his country; it being an article in the Grecian creed, that the gods often interpose visibly and bodily in human affairs. I must however ob­serve, that Homer's deities do no honour to his poems. Fictions that transgress the bounds of nature, seldom have a good ef­fect: they may inflame the imagination for a moment, but will not be relished by any person of a correct taste. Let me add, that of whatever use such fictions may be to a mean genius, an able writer has much finer materials of Nature's production for eleva­ting his subject, and making it interesting.

Boileau, a strenuous advocate for the Heathen deities, as observed, declares a­gainst angels and devils, though supported by the religious creed of his country. One would be apt to imagine, that a critic fa­med [Page 242] for his good taste, could have no other meaning than to justify the employing Hea­then deities for enlivening or elevating the description. But as the Heathen deities make not a better figure in poetical lan­guage than angels and devils, Boileau, in pleading for the former, certainly meant, if he had any distinct meaning, that these may be introduced as actors. And, in fact, he himself is guilty of this glaring absurdi­ty, where it is not so pardonable as in an epic poem. In his ode upon the taking of Na­mur, he demands with a most serious countenance, whether the walls were built by Apollo or Neptune; and in relating the passage of the Rhine, anno 1672, he de­scribes the god of that river as fighting with all his might to oppose the French mo­narch. This is confounding fiction with reality at a strange rate. The French wri­ters in general run into this error: wonder­ful! that they should not be sensible how ridiculous it is.

That this is a capital error in the Gieru­salleme liberata, Tasso's greatest admirers must acknowledge. A situation can never [Page 243] be intricate, nor the reader ever in pain a­bout the catastrophe, so long as there is an angel, devil, or magician, to lend a helping hand. Voltaire, in his essay upon epic poe­try, talking of the Pharsalia, observes judi­ciously, ‘"That the proximity of time, the notoriety of events, the character of the age, enlightened and political, joined with the solidity of Lucan's subject, de­prived him of all liberty of poetical fic­tion."’ Is it not amazing, that a critic who reasons so justly with respect to others; can be so blind with respect to himself? Voltaire, not satisfied to enrich his language with images drawn from invisible and supe­rior beings, introduces them into the ac­tion. In the sixth canto of the Henriade, St Louis appears in person, and terrifies the soldiers; in the seventh canto, St Louis sends the god of Sleep to Henry; and, in the tenth, the demons of Discord, Fanati­cism, War, &c. assist Aumale in a single combat with Turenne, and are chased a­way by a good angel brandishing the sword of God. To blend such fictitious person­ages in the same action with mortals, [Page 244] makes a bad figure at any rate; and is in­tolerable in a history so recent as that of Henry IV. This singly is sufficient to make the Henriade a short-liv'd poem, were it o­therwise possessed of every beauty. I have tried serious reasoning upon this subject; but ridicule, I suppose, will be found a more successful weapon, which Addison has ap­plied in an elegant manner: ‘"Whereas the time of a general peace is, in all ap­pearance, drawing near; being informed that there are several ingenious persons who intend to shew their talents on so happy an occasion, and being willing, as much as in me lies, to prevent that effusion of nonsense which we have good cause to apprehend; I do hereby strictly re­quire every person who shall write on this subject, to remember that he is a Christian, and not to sacrifice his cate­chism to his poetry. In order to it, I do expect of him in the first place, to make his own poem, without depending upon Phoebus for any part of it, or call­ing out for aid upon any of the mu­ses by name. I do likewise positively [Page 245] forbid the sending of Mercury with any particular message or dispatch relating to the peace; and shall by no means suffer Minerva to take upon her the shape of any plenipotentiary concerned in this great work. I do further declare, that I shall not allow the destinies to have had an hand in the deaths of the several thousands who have been slain in the late war; being of opinion that all such deaths may be very well accounted for by the Christian system of powder and ball. I do therefore strictly forbid the fates to cut the thread of man's life upon any pretence whatsoever, unless it be for the sake of the rhyme. And whereas I have good reason to fear, that Neptune will have a great deal of business on his hands in several poems which we may now suppose are upon the anvil, I do also prohibit his appearance, unless it be done in metaphor, simile, or any very short allusion; and that even here he be not permitted to enter, but with great caution and circumspection. I desire that the same rule may be extended to his [Page 246] whole fraternity of Heathen gods; it be­ing my design to condemn every poem to the flames in which Jupiter thunders, or exercises any other act of authority which does not belong to him. In short, I expect that no Pagan agent shall be in­troduced, or any fact related which a man cannot give credit to with a good conscience. Provided always, that no­thing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to several of the female poets in this nation, who shall still be left in full possession of their gods and goddesses, in the same manner as if this paper had never been written." Spectator, No 523.

The marvellous is indeed so much pro­moted by machinery, that it is not won­derful to find it embraced by the bulk of writers, and perhaps of readers. If indul­ged at all, it is generally indulged to ex­cess. Homer introduces his deities with no greater ceremony than his mortals; and Virgil has still less moderation: an over­watched pilot cannot fall asleep and drop into the sea by natural means: the two [Page 247] lovers, Aeneas and Dido, cannot take the same bed, without the immediate interpo­sition of superior powers. The ridiculous in such fictions, must appear even through the thickest vail of gravity and solemnity.

Angels and devils serve equally with the Heathen deities, as materials for figurative language, perhaps better among Christians, because we believe in them, and not in the Heathen deities. But every one is sensible, as well as Boileau, that the invisible powers in our creed make a much worse figure as actors in a modern poem, than the invisi­ble powers in the Heathen creed did in an­cient poems. The reason I take to be what follows. The Heathen deities, in the opi­nion of their votaries, were beings elevated one step only above mankind, actuated by the same passions, and directed by the same motives; therefore not altogether improper to mix with mankind in an important ac­tion. In our creed, superior beings are placed at such a mighty distance from us, and are of a nature so different, that with no propriety can they appear with us upon the same stage. Man is a creature so much in­ferior, [Page 248] that he loses all dignity when set in opposition.

There seems to be no doubt, that an historical poem admits the embellishment of allegory, as well as of metaphor, simile, or other figure. Moral truth, in particular, is finely illustrated in the allegorical manner. It amuses the fancy to find abstract terms, by a sort of magic, converted into active beings; and it is delightful to trace a gene­ral proposition in a pictured event. But allegorical beings should be confined within their own sphere; and never be admitted to mix in the principal action, nor to co-o­perate in retarding or advancing the catastro­phe. This would have a still worse effect, than the introduction of invisible powers; and I am ready to assign the reason. An historical fable affords entertainment chiefly by making us conceive its personages to be really existing and acting in our presence: in an allegory, this agreeable delusion is denied; for we must not imagine an alle­gorical personage to be a real being, but the figure only of some virtue or vice; other­wise the allegory is lost. The impression [Page 249] of real existence, essential to an epic poem, is inconsistent with that figurative existence which is essential to an allegory; and there­fore no method can be more effectual to destroy the impression of reality, than to introduce allegorical beings co-operating with those whom we conceive to be really existing. The love-episode in the Hen­riade *, is insufferable by the discordant mixture of allegory with real life. This episode is copied from that of Rinaldo and Armida in the Gierusalemme liberata, which hath no merit to intitle it to be copied. An allegorical object, such as fame in the Aeneid, and the temple of love in the Hen­riade, may find place in a description: but to introduce Discord as a real personage, imploring the assistance of Love as another real personage, to enervate the courage of the hero, is making these figurative be­ings act beyond their sphere, and creating a strange jumble of discordant materials, viz. truth and fiction. The allegory of Sin and Death in the Paradise Lost, is, I pre­sume, [Page 250] not generally relished, though it is not entirely of the same nature with what I have been condemning. The Paradise Lost is not confined to the history of our first parents; and in a work comprehending the atchievements of superior beings, there is more room for fancy than where it is con­fined to human actions.

What is the true notion of an episode? or how is it to be distinguished from what is really a part of the principal action? Every incident that promotes or retards the cata­strophe, must be a part of the principal ac­tion. This clears the nature of an episode; which may be defined, ‘"An incident con­nected with the principal action, but which contributes not either to advance or retard it."’ The descent of Aeneas into hell doth not advance or retard the cata­strophe; and therefore is an episode. The story of Nisus and Euryalus, producing an alteration in the affairs of the contending parties, is a part of the principal action. The family-scene in the sixth book of the Iliad is of the same nature: by Hector's retiring from the field of battle to visit his [Page 251] wife, the Grecians got liberty to breathe, and even to press upon the Trojans. It being thus the nature of an episode to break the unity of action, it ought never to be indulged unless to refresh and unbend the mind after the fatigue of a long narra­tion. This purpose of an episode demands the following properties. It ought to be well connected with the principal action: it ought to be short: and it ought to be lively and interesting.

Next, upon the peculiarities of a dramatic poem. And the first I shall mention is a double plot; being naturally led to it by what is said immediately above. One of these double plots must be of the nature of an episode in an epic poem; for it would distract the spectator, instead of entertain­ing him, if he were forc'd to attend, at the same time, to two capital plots equally in­teresting. An under-plot in a tragedy has seldom a good effect; because a passionate piece cannot be too simple. The sympa­thetic emotions once roused, cling to their objects, and cannot bear interruption: [Page 252] when a subject fills the mind, it leaves no room for any separate concern*. Variety is more tolerable in comedy, which pretends only to amuse, without totally occupying [Page 253] the mind. But even here, to make a dou­ble plot agreeable, a good deal of art is re­quisite. The under-plot ought not to vary greatly in its tone from that which is prin­cipal: passions may be varied, but discor­dant passions are unpleasant when jumbled together. This is a solid objection to tragi­comedy. For this reason, I blame the Provok'd Husband: all the scenes that bring the family of the Wrongheads into action, being ludicrous and farcical, agree very ill with the sharpness and severity of the principal subject, exhibiting the discord betwixt Lord Townly and his lady. The same objection touches not the double plot of the Careless Husband: the different subjects are sweetly connected; and have only so much variety as to resemble shades of colours harmoniously mixed. But this is not all. The under plot ought to be con­nected with the principal action, so as to employ the same persons: the intervals or pauses of the principal action ought to be filled with the under-plot; and both ought to be concluded together. This is the case of the Merry Wives of Windsor.

[Page 254] Violent action ought to be excluded from the stage. While the dialogue runs on, a thousand particulars concur to delude us into an impression of reality; genuine sentiments, passionate language, and per­suasive gesture. The spectator once enga­ged, is willing to be deceived, loses sight of himself, and without scruple enjoys the spectacle as a reality. From this absent state, he is roused by violent action: he wakes as from a pleasing dream, and ga­thering his senses about him, finds all to be a fiction. Horace delivers the same rule; and founds it upon the reason given:

Ne pueros coram populo Medea trucidet;
Aut humana palam coquat exta nefarius Atreus;
Aut in avem Progne vertatur, Cadmus in anguem.
Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.

The French critics, as it appears to me, misapprehend the reason of this rule. Shed­ding blood upon the stage, say they, is barbarous and shocking to a polite au­dience. This no doubt is an additional reason for excluding bloodshed from the [Page 255] French stage, supposing the French to be in reality so delicate. But this evidently is not the reason that weighed with the Greeks: that polite people had no notion of such delicacy; witness the murder of Cly­temnestra by her son Orestes, passing be­hind the scene, as represented by Sopho­cles. Her voice is heard calling out for mercy, bitter expostulations on his part, loud shrieks upon her being stabb'd, and then a deep silence. I appeal to every per­son of feeling, whether this scene be not more horrible, than if the deed had been committed in sight of the spectators upon a sudden gust of passion. According to the foregoing reasoning of the French critics, there is nothing to exclude from the stage a duel occasioned by an affair of honour, because in it there is nothing barbarous or shocking to a polite audience: yet a scene of this nature is excluded from the French stage; which shows, without more argu­ment, that these critics have misapprehend­ed the rule laid down by Horace. If Cor­neille, in representing the affair betwixt Horatius and his sister, upon which murder [Page 256] ensues behind the scene, had no other view than to remove from the spectators a scene of horror, he certainly was in a capital mistake: for murder in cold blood, which in some measure was the case as represented, is more horrible even where the conclusive stab is not seen, than the same act perform­ed on the stage by violent and unpremedita­ted passion, as suddenly repented of as com­mitted. I heartily agree with Addison*, that no part of this incident ought to have been represented, but reserved for a narra­tive, with all the alleviating circumstances possible in favour of the hero. This is the only method to avoid the difficulties that unqualify this incident for representation, a deliberate murder on the one hand, and on the other a violent action performed on the stage, which must rouse the spectator from his dream of reality.

I shall finish with a few words upon the dialogue; which ought to be so conducted as to be a true representation of nature. I [Page 257] talk not here of the sentiments, nor of the language; for these come under different heads. I talk of what properly belongs to dialogue-writing; where every single speech, short or long, ought to arise from what is said by the former speaker, and furnish matter for what comes after, till the end of the scene. In this view, the whole speeches, from first to last, represent so many links, all connected together in one regular chain. No author, ancient or modern, possesses the art of dialogue equal to Shakespear. Dry­den, in this particular, may justly be pla­ced as his opposite. He frequently intro­duces three or four persons speaking upon the same subject, each throwing out his own sentiments separately, without regard­ing what is said by the rest. I give for an ex­ample the first scene of Aurenzebe. Some­times he makes a number club in relating an event, not to a stranger, supposed igno­rant of it, but to one another, for the sake merely of speaking. Of this notable sort of dialogue, we have a specimen in the first scene of the first part of the Conquest of Gra­nada. In the second part of the same tragedy, [Page 258] scene second, the King, Abenamar, and Zulema, make their separate observations, like so many soliloquies, upon the fluctua­ting temper of the mob. It puts one in mind of a pastoral, where two shepherds are introduced reciting couplets alternately, each in praise of his own mistress, as if they were contending for a prize.

The bandying sentiments in this manner, beside an unnatural air, has another bad ef­fect. It stays the course of the action, be­cause it is not productive of any consequence. In Congreve's comedies, the action is often suspended to make way for a play of wit. But of this more particularly in the chapter immediately following.

CHAP. XXIII. The three Unities.

THE first chapter unfolds the plea­sure we have in a chain of connect­ed facts. In histories of the world, of a country, of a people, this pleasure is but faint; because the connections are slight or obscure. We find more entertainment in biography, where the incidents are con­nected by their relation to one person, who makes a figure and commands our atten­tion. But the greatest entertainment of the kind, is afforded by the history of a single e­vent, supposing it to be interesting. The history of one event produceth a more en­tire connection among the parts, than the history of one person. In the latter, the circumstances are not otherwise connected than by their relation to that person: in the [Page 260] former, the circumstances are connected by the strongest of all relations, that of cause and effect. Thus, the circumstances of a single event, having a mutual connection extremely intimate, form a delightful train: we survey with peculiar pleasure a number of facts that give birth to each other; and we pass with ease and satisfaction from the first to the last.

But this subject merits a more particular discussion. When we consider the chain of causes and effects in the material world, independent of purpose, design, or thought, we find a train of incidents in succession, without beginning, middle, or end. Every thing that happens is both a cause and an effect: it is the effect of something that goes before, and the cause of one or many things that follow. One incident may af­fect us more, another less; but all of them, great and small, are so many links in the universal chain. The mind, in viewing these incidents, cannot rest or settle ulti­mately upon any one; but is carried along in the train without any close.

[Page 261] But when the intellectual world is taken under view, in conjunction with the mate­rial, the scene is varied. Man acts with deliberation, will, and choice; he acts with a view to some end, glory, for example, or riches, or conquest, the procuring happi­ness to individuals, or to his country in general; and he proposes means and lays schemes to attain the end proposed. Here is recognised a capital end or event, con­nected with subordinate events or incidents by the relation of causation. In running o­ver a series of subordinate events, we cannot rest upon any one; because they are presented to us as means only, leading to some end. But we rest with satisfaction upon the ulti­mate event; because there, the purpose, the plan, the aim, of the chief person or persons, is completed and brought to a final conclu­sion. This indicates a beginning, a middle, and an end, of what Aristotle calls an entire action *. The story naturally begins with describing those circumstances which move the distinguished person to form a plan, in [Page 262] order to compass some desired event. The prosecution of that plan, and the obstruc­tions, carry the reader into the heat of ac­tion. The middle is properly where the action is the most involved; and the end is where the event is brought about, and the design accomplished.

A design or plan thus happily perfected, after many obstructions, affords wonderful delight to the reader. And to produce this delight, a principle mentioned above* mainly contributes; a principle that disposes the mind to complete every work commen­ced, and in general to carry every thing to its ultimate conclusion.

I have given the foregoing example of a plan laid down and completed, because it affords the clearest conception of a begin­ning, a middle, and an end, in which con­sists unity of action: and indeed stricter u­nity cannot be imagined than in this case. But an action may have unity, or a begin­ning, middle, and end, without so inti­mate a relation of parts. The catastrophe [Page 263] may be different from what is intended or desired; which is frequently the case in our best tragedies. The Aeneid is an instance of means employ'd to produce a certain e­vent, and these means crowned with suc­cess. The Iliad is formed upon a different model. It begins with the quarrel betwixt Achilles and Agamemnon: it goes on to describe the several effects produced by that cause; and ends in a reconciliation. Here is unity of action, no doubt, a begin­ning, a middle, and an end: it must however be acknowledged, that the Aeneid is more happy in point of connection. The mind hath a propensity to go forward in the chain of history: it keeps always in view the expected event; and when the inci­dents or under-parts are connected together by their relation to the event, the mind runs sweetly and easily along them. This pleasure we have in the Aeneid. But it is not altogether so pleasant, as in the Iliad, to connect effects by their common cause; for such connection forces the mind to a conti­nual retrospect: looking backward is like walking backward.

[Page 264] But Homer's plan is still more imperfect, for another reason, That the events descri­bed are but imperfectly connected with the wrath of Achilles as their cause. His wrath did not exert itself in action; and the mis­fortunes of his countrymen were but nega­tively the effects of his wrath, by depri­ving them of his assistance.

If unity of action be a capital beauty in a fable imitative of human affairs, a double action must be a capital defect, by carrying on together two trains of unconnected ob­jects. For the sake of variety, we indulge an under-plot that contributes to the prin­cipal event. But two unconnected events are a great deformity; and it lessens the de­formity but a very little, to engage the same actors in both. Ariosto is quite li­centious in this particular: he carries on at the same time a plurality of unconnected stories. His only excuse is, that his plan is perfectly well adjusted to his subject; for every thing in the Orlando Furioso is wild and extravagant.

To state facts according to the order of time, is the most natural and the most [Page 265] simple method: a method however not so essential, in an historical fable especially, as not to yield to some conspicuous beauties*. If a noted story, cold and simple in its first movements, be made the subject of an epic poem, the reader may be hurried into the heat of action, reserving the preliminaries for a conversation-piece, if it shall be thought necessary. This method, at the same time, being dramatic, hath a peculiar beauty, which narration cannot reach. Ro­mance-writers, who give little attention to nature, deviate in this particular, among many, from a just standard. They make no difficulty of presenting to the reader, without the least preparation, unknown persons engaged in some adventure equally unknown. In Cassandra, two personages, who afterward are discovered to be the he­roes of the story, start up completely armed upon the banks of the Euphrates, and en­gage in a single combat.

[Page 266] A play analyzed, is a chain of connected facts, of which each scene makes a link. Each scene, accordingly, ought to produce some incident relative to the catastrophe or ultimate event, by advancing or retarding it. If no incident be produced, such a scene, which may be termed barren, ought not to be indulged, because it breaks the u­nity of action. A barren scene can never be intitled to a place, because the chain is complete without it. In the Old Bachelor, the 3d scene of act 2. and all that fol­low to the end of that act, are mere con­versation-pieces, without any consequence. The 10th and 11th scenes, act 3. Double Dealer, the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th scenes, act 1. Love for Love, are of the same kind. Neither is The Way of the World entirely guiltless of such scenes. It will be no justification, that they help to display characters. It were better, like [Page 267] Dryden, in his dramatis personae, to de­scribe characters beforehand, which would not interrupt the chain of action. But a writer of genius has no occasion for such ar­tifice: he can display the characters of his personages much more to the life in senti­ment and action. How successfully is this done by Shakespear! in whose works there is not to be found a single barren scene.

Upon the whole, it appears, that all the facts in an historical fable, ought to have a mutual connection by their common rela­tion to the grand event or catastrophe. And this relation, in which the unity of action consists, is equally essential to epic and dra­matic compositions.

How far the unities of time and of place are essential, is a question of greater intricacy. These unities were strictly observed in the Grecian and Roman theatres; and they are inculcated by the French and English cri­tics as essential to every dramatic composi­tion. In theory, these unities are also ac­knowledged by our best poets, though their practice is seldom correspondent: they are often forc'd to take liberties, which they [Page 268] pretend not to justify, against the practice of the Greeks and Romans, and against the solemn decision of their own countrymen. But in the course of this inquiry it will be made evident, that the example of the ancients ought, upon this point, to have no weight with us, and that our critics are guilty of a mistake, in admitting no greater latitude of place and time than was admitted in Greece and Rome.

Suffer me only to premise, that the uni­ties of place and time, are not, by the most rigid critics, required in a narrative poem. In such a composition, if it pretend to copy nature, these unities would be absurd; be­cause real events are seldom confined within narrow limits either of place or of time. And yet we can follow history, or an historical fable, through all its changes, with the greatest facility. We never once think of measuring the real time by what is taken in reading; nor of forming any connection betwixt the place of action and that which we occupy.

I am sensible, that the drama differs so far from the epic, as to admit different rules. [Page 269] It will be observed, ‘"That an historical fable, which affords entertainment by reading solely, is under no limitation of time or of place, more than a genuine history; but that a dramatic composi­tion cannot be accurately represented, un­less it be limited, as its representation is, to one place and to a few hours; and therefore that no fable can be admitted but what has these properties, because it would be absurd to compose a piece for representation that cannot be justly re­presented."’ This argument, I acknow­ledge, has at least a plausible appearance; and yet one is apt to suspect some fallacy, considering that no critic, however strict, has ventured to confine the unities of place and of time within so narrow bounds*.

[Page 270] A view of the Grecian drama, and a comparison betwixt it and our own, may perhaps help to relieve us from this dilem­ma. If they be differently constructed, as shall by and by be made evident, it is pos­sible that the foregoing reasoning may not be applicable with equal force to both. This is an article, that, with relation to the present subject, has not, so far as I know, been examined by any writer.

All authors agree, that the first notion of tragedy in Greece, was derived from the hymns in praise of Bacchus, which were sung in parts by a chorus. Thespis, to relieve the singers, and for the sake of va­riety, introduced one actor; who gave a narrative of the subject, and sometimes re­presented one or other personage. Eschy­lus, introducing a second actor, formed the dialogue; by which the performance became dramatic: and the actors were multiplied when the subject represented made it ne­cessary. But still, the chorus, which gave a beginning to tragedy, was considered as an essential part of its constitution. In the first scene, generally, are unfolded the pre­liminary [Page 271] circumstances that lead to the grand event. This scene is by Aristotle termed the prologue. In the second scene, where the action properly begins, the cho­rus is introduced, which, as originally, con­tinues upon the stage during the whole performance. Sophocles adheres to this plan religiously. Euripides is not altoge­ther so correct. In some of his pieces it becomes necessary to remove the chorus. But this is seldom done; and when done, matters are so ordered as that their absence is but momentary. The chorus often mix in the dialogue; and when the dialogue happens to be suspended, the chorus, du­ring the interval, is employ'd in singing. Nor does the removal of the chorus, when that unusual step is risked, interrupt the representation. They never leave the stage of their own accord, but at the command of some principal personage who constantly waits their return.

Thus the Grecian drama is a continued representation without any interruption; a circumstance that merits attention. A con­tinued representation without a pause, af­fords [Page 272] not opportunity to vary the place of action; and has withal a very short dura­tion. To a representation so confined in place and time, the foregoing reasoning is strictly applicable. A real or feigned ac­tion that is brought to a conclusion after considerable intervals of time and frequent change of place, cannot accurately be co­pied in a representation that admits of no latitude in either. Hence it is, that the u­nities of place and of time, were, or ought to have been, strictly observed in the Grecian tragedies. This is made necessary by the very constitution of their drama; for it is absurd to compose a tragedy that cannot be justly represented.

Modern critics, who for our drama pretend to establish rules founded on the practice of the Greeks, are guilty of an egregious blunder. The unities of place and of time, so much vaunted, were in Greece, as we see, a matter of necessity, not of choice. I am now ready to show, that if we submit to these fetters, it must be from choice not necessity. This will be evident upon taking a view of the construc­tion [Page 273] of our drama, which differs widely from that of Greece; whether more or less perfect, is a separate question, which shall be handled afterward. By dropping the chorus, an opportunity is afforded to split our drama into parts or acts, which in the representation are distinguished by intervals of time; and during these in­tervals, the stage is totally evacuated and the spectacle suspended. This construction qualifies our drama for subjects spread through a wide space both of time and of place. The time supposed to pass during the suspension of the representation, is not measured by the time of the suspension; nor is any connection formed, betwixt the box we sit in and the place where things are sup­posed to be transacted in our absence: and by that means, many subjects can be justly represented in our theatres, for which there was no place in those of ancient Greece. This doctrine may be illustrated, by compa­ring a modern play to a set of historical pic­tures: let us suppose them five in number, and the resemblance will be complete. Each of the pictures resembles an act in one [Page 274] of our plays. There must necessarily be the strictest unity of place and of time in each picture; and the same necessity requires these two unities during each act of a play, because during an act there is no interruption in the spectacle. Now, when we view in succession a number of such historical pic­tures, let it be, for example, the history of Alexander by Le Brun, we have no diffi­culty to conceive, that months or years have passed betwixt the subjects exhibited in two different pictures, though the interrup­tion is imperceptible in passing our eye from the one to the other. We have as little difficulty to conceive a change of place, however great. In this matter, there is truly no difference betwixt five acts of a modern play and five such pictures. Where the representation is suspended, we can with the greatest facility suppose any length of time or any change of place. The specta­tor, it is true, may be conscious, that the real time and place are not the same with what are employ'd in the representation, even including the intervals. But this is a work of reflection; and by the same reflec­tion [Page 275] he may also be conscious, that Garrick is not King Lear, that the playhouse is not Dover cliffs, nor the noise he hears thunder and lightning. In a word, during an inter­ruption of the representation, it is not more difficult for a spectator to imagine himself carried from place to place, and from one period of time to another, than at once, when the scene first opens, to be carried from London to Rome, or from the pre­sent time two thousand years back. And indeed, it must appear ridiculous, that a critic, who makes no difficulty of supposing candle-light to be sun-shine, and some painted canvasses a palace or a prison, should affect so much difficulty in imagining a latitude of place or of time in the story, beyond what is necessary in the representa­tion.

There are, I acknowledge, some ef­fects of great latitude in time that ought never to be indulged in a composition for the theatre. Nothing can be more absurd, than at the close to exhibit a full grown person who appears a child at the beginning. The mind rejects as contrary to all proba­bility, [Page 276] such latitude of time as is requisite for a change so remarkable. The greatest change from place to place hath not altoge­ther the same bad effect. In the bulk of human affairs place is not material; and the mind, when occupied with an interesting event, is little regardful of minute circum­stances. These may be varied at will, be­cause they scarce make any impression.

But though I have thus taken arms to rescue modern poets from the slavish fetters of modern critics, I would not be under­stood to justify liberty without any reserve. An unbounded licence with relation to place and time, is faulty for a reason that seems to have been overlooked: it never fails to break in upon the unity of action. In the ordinary course of human affairs, single e­vents, such as are fit to be represented on the stage, are confined to a narrow spot, and generally employ no great extent of time. We accordingly seldom find strict unity of action in a dramatic composition, where any remarkable latitude is indulged in these particulars. I must say farther, that a composition which employs but one [Page 277] place, and requires not a greater length of time than is necessary for the representa­tion, is so far the more perfect: because the confining an event within so narrow bounds, contributes to the unity of action; and also prevents that labour, however slight, which the mind must undergo in imagining fre­quent changes of place and many intervals of time. But still I must insist, that the li­mitation of place and time which was ne­cessary in the Grecian drama, is no rule to us; and therefore that though such limita­tion adds one beauty more to the composi­tion, it is at best but a refinement, which may justly give place to a thousand beau­ties more substantial. And I may add, that it is extremely difficult, I was about to say impracticable, to contract within the Gre­cian limits, any fable so fruitful of incidents in number and variety as to give full scope to the fluctuation of passion.

It may now appear, that critics who put the unities of place and of time upon the same footing with the unity of action, ma­king them all equally essential, have not at­tended to the nature and construction of the [Page 278] modern drama. If they admit an interrupt­ed representation, with which no writer finds fault, it is plainly absurd to condemn the greatest advantage it procures us, that of representing many interesting subjects ex­cluded from the Grecian stage. If there needs must be a reformation, why not re­store the ancient chorus and the ancient continuity of action? There is certainly no medium: for to admit an interruption with­out relaxing from the strict unities of place and of time, is in effect to load us with all the inconveniencies of the ancient drama, and at the same time to with-hold from us its advantages.

And therefore the only proper question is, whether our model be or be not a real improvement. This indeed may justly be called in question; and in order to a fair comparative trial, some particulars must be premised. When a play begins, we have no difficulty to enter into the scene of ac­tion, however distant it be in time or in place. We know that the play is a repre­sentation only: and the imagination, with facility, accommodates itself to every cir­cumstance. Our situation is very different [Page 279] after we are engaged. It is the perfection of representation to hide itself, to impose upon the spectator, and to produce in him an impression of reality, as if he were spec­tator of a real event*. Any interruption annihilates this impression: he is roused out of his waking dream, and unhappily resto­red to his senses. So difficult it is to support this impression of reality, that much slighter interruptions than the interval betwixt two acts are sufficient to dissolve the charm. In the 5th act of the Mourning Bride, the three first scenes are in a room of state; the fourth in a prison. This change is operated by shifting the scene, which is done in a trice. But however quick the transition may be, it is impracticable to impose upon the spectators so far as to make them con­ceive that they are actually carried from the palace to the prison. They immediately re­flect, that the palace and prison are imagi­nary, and that the whole is a fiction.

From these premisses one will be natu­rally led, at first view, to declare against [Page 280] the frequent interruptions in the modern drama. It will occur, ‘"That every inter­ruption must have the effect to banish the dream of reality, and with it to ba­nish our concern, which cannot subsist while we are conscious that all is a fic­tion; and therefore that in the modern drama sufficient time is not afforded for the fluctuation and swelling of passion, like what is afforded in the Grecian dra­ma, where there is no interruption."’ This reasoning, it must be owned, has a specious appearance: but we must not turn faint-hearted upon the first repulse; let us rally our troops for a second engage­ment.

Considering attentively the ancient dra­ma, we find, that though the representa­tion is never interrupted, the principal ac­tion is suspended not less frequently than in the modern drama. There are five acts in each; and the only difference is, that in the former, when the action is suspend­ed, as it is at the end of every act, oppor­tunity is taken of the interval to employ the chorus in singing. Hence it appears, that [Page 281] the Grecian continuity of representation cannot have the effect to prolong the im­pression of reality. To banish this impres­sion, a suspension of the action while the chorus is employ'd in singing, is not less o­perative than a total suspension both of the representation and action.

But to open a larger view, I am ready to show, that a continued representation, with­out a single pause even in the principal ac­tion, so far from an advantage, would be really an imperfection; and that a represen­tation with proper pauses, is better calcu­lated for moving the audience, and making the strongest impressions. Representation cannot very long support an impression of reality: when the spirits are exhausted by close attention and by the agitation of pas­sion, an uneasiness ensues, which never fails to banish the waking dream. Now suppo­sing an act to employ as much time as can easily be given with strict attention to any incident, a supposition that cannot be far from the truth; it follows, that the im­pression of reality would not be prolonged beyond the space of an act, even supposing [Page 282] a continued representation. Hence it ap­pears, that a continued representation with­out any pause, would be a bad contrivance: it would break the attention by overstrain­ing it, and produce a total absence of mind. In this respect, the four pauses have a fine effect. By affording to the audience a sea­sonable respite when the impression of rea­lity is gone, and while nothing material is in agitation, they relieve the mind from its fatigue; and consequently prevent a wan­dering of thought at the very time possibly of the most interesting scenes.

In one article indeed, the Grecian model has greatly the advantage: its chorus, du­ring an interval, not only preserves alive the impressions made upon the audience, but also prepares their hearts finely for new im­pressions. In our theatres, on the contra­ry, the audience, at the end of every act, are in a manner solicited to withdraw their thoughts from what has been passing, and to trifle away the time the best way they can. Thus in the intervals betwixt the acts, every warm impression is banished; and the spectators begin the next act cool and in­different, [Page 283] as at the commencement of the play. Here is a gross malady in our thea­trical representations; but a malady that luckily is not incurable. To revive the Grecian chorus, would be to revive the Grecian slavery of place and time. But I can figure a detached chorus coinciding with a pause in the representation, as the ancient chorus did with a pause in the principal ac­tion. What objection, for example, can there lie against music betwixt the acts, vo­cal and instrumental, adapted to the sub­ject? Such detached chorus, beside admit­ting the same latitude that we enjoy at present as to time and place, would have more than one happy effect: it would re­cruit the spirits; and it would preserve en­tire, the tone, if not the tide, of passion. The music that comes first, ought to accord with the tone of the preceding passion, and be gradually varied till it accord with the tone of the passion that is to succeed in the next act. The music and the represen­tation would both of them be gainers by their conjunction; which will thus appear. Music that accords with the present tone [Page 284] of mind, is, upon that account, doubly a­greeable; and accordingly, though music singly hath not power to raise any passion, it tends greatly to support a passion already raised. Further, music, though it cannot of itself raise a passion, prepares us for the passion that follows: by making chearful, tender, melancholy, or animated impres­sions, music has power to dispose the heart to various passions. Of this power, the first scene of the Mourning Bride is a shi­ning instance: without the preparation of soft music in a melancholy strain, it would be extremely difficult to enter all at once into Almeria's deep distress. In this man­ner, music and representation support each other delightfully: the impression made upon the audience by the representation, is a fine preparation for the music that succeeds; and the impression made by the music, is a fine preparation for the representation that suc­ceeds. It appears to me clear, that, by some such contrivance, the modern drama may be improved, so as to enjoy the advantage of the ancient chorus without its slavish li­mitation of place and time. And as to [Page 285] music in particular, I cannot figure any plan that would tend more to its improve­ment. Composers, those for the stage at least, would be reduced to the happy ne­cessity of studying and imitating nature; instead of indulging, according to the pre­sent fashion, in wild, fantastic, and unna­tural conceits. But we must return to our subject, and finish the comparison betwixt the ancient and the modern drama.

The numberless improprieties forc'd upon the Grecian dramatic poets by the constitution of their drama, are, of them­selves one should think, a sufficient reason for preferring that of the moderns, even abstracting from the improvement proposed. To prepare the reader for this article, it must be premised, that as in the ancient drama the place of action never varies, a place necessarily must be chosen to which every person may have access without any improbability. This confines the scene to some open place, generally the court or area before a palace; which excludes from the Grecian theatre transactions within doors, though these commonly are the most [Page 286] important. Such cruel restraint is of itself sufficient to cramp the most pregnant inven­tion; and accordingly the Grecian writers, in order to preserve unity of place, are re­duced to woful improprieties. In the Hippolytus of Euripides*, Phedra, di­stressed in mind and body, is carried with­out any pretext from her palace to the place of action, is there laid upon a couch un­able to support herself upon her limbs, and made to utter many things improper to be heard by a number of women who form the chorus. What is still worse, her female at­tendant uses the strongest intreaties to make her reveal the secret cause of her anguish; which at last Phedra, contrary to decency and probability, is prevailed upon to do in presence of this very chorus. Alcestes, in Euripides, at the point of death, is brought from the palace to the place of ac­tion, groaning and lamenting her untimely fate. In the Trachiniens of Sophocles, a secret is imparted to Dejanira, the wife [Page 287] of Hercules, in presence of the chorus. In the tragedy of Iphigenia, the messenger em­ploy'd to carry Clitemnestra the news that Iphigenia was sacrificed, stops short at the place of action, and with a loud voice calls the Queen from her palace to hear the news. Again, in the Iphigenia in Tauris, the necessary presence of the chorus forces Euripides into a gross absurdity, which is to form a secret plot in their hearing*; and to disguise the absurdity, much courtship is bestowed on the chorus, not one woman but a number, to engage them to secrecy. In the Medea of Euripides, that princess makes no difficulty, in presence of the cho­rus, to plot the death of her husband, of his mistress, and of her father the King of Corinth, all by poison. It was necessary to bring Medea upon the stage, and there is but one place of action, which is always occupied by the chorus. This scene closes the second act; and in the end of the third, she frankly makes the chorus her confidents in ploting the murder of her own [Page 288] children. Terence, by identity of place, is often forc'd to make a conversation within doors be heard on the open street: the cries of a woman in labour are there heard distinctly.

The Grecian poets are not more hap­py with respect to time than with re­spect to place. In the Hippolytus of Euri­pides, that prince is banished at the end of the fourth act. In the first scene of the following act, a messenger relates to Theseus the whole particulars of the death of Hippolytus by the sea-monster. This remarkable event must have employ'd ma­ny hours; and yet in the representation it is confined to the time employ'd by the chorus upon the song at the end of the 4th act. The inconsistency is still greater in the Iphigenia in Tauris *. The song could not exhaust half an hour; and yet the in­cidents supposed to have happened in that time, could not naturally be transacted in less than half a day.

The Grecian artists are not less frequent­ly obliged to transgress another rule, derived [Page 289] also from a continued representation, which is, that the place of action must constantly be occupied; for the very least vacuity is an interruption of the representation. Sophocles, with regard to this rule as well as others, is generally correct. But Euripides cannot bear such restraint: he often evacuates the stage, and leaves it empty for others in succession. Iphigenia in Tauris, after pronouncing a soliloquy in the first scene, leaves the place of action, and is succeeded by Orestes and Pylades. They, after some conversation, walk off; and Iphi­genia re-enters, accompanied with the cho­rus. In the Alcestes, which is of the same author, the place of action is void at the end of the third act. It is true, that to co­ver this irregularity, and to preserve the re­presentation in motion, Euripides is ex­tremely careful to fill the stage without loss of time. But this is still an interruption, and a link of the chain broken: for during the change of the actors, there must always be a space of time, when we cannot justly say, that the stage is occupied by either set. It makes indeed a more remarkable inter­ruption, [Page 290] to change the place of action as well as the actors; but that was not practi­cable upon the Grecian stage.

It is hard to say upon what model Te­rence has formed his plays. Having no chorus, there is a cessation in the represen­tation at the end of every act. But advan­tage is not taken of this cessation, even to vary the place of action. The street is al­ways chosen, where every thing passing may be seen by every person: and by this choice, the most sprightly and interesting parts of the action, which commonly pass within doors, are excluded; witness the last act of the Eunuch. He hath submitted to the same slavery with respect to time. In a word, a play with a regular chorus, is not more confined in place and time than his plays are. Thus a zealous sectary follows implicitly ancient forms and ceremonies, without once considering whether their in­troductive cause be still subsisting. Plau­tus, of a bolder genius than Terence, makes good use of the liberty afforded by an interrupted representation: he varies the place of action upon all occasions, when the variation suits his purpose.

[Page 291] The intelligent reader will by this time understand, that I plead for no change of place in our plays but after an interval, nor for any latitude in point of time but what falls in with an interval. The unities of place and time ought to be strictly observed during each act; for during the representa­tion, there is no opportunity for the smallest deviation from either. Hence it is an es­sential requisite, that during an act the stage be always occupied; for even a mo­mentary vacuity makes an interval. An­other rule is not less essential: it would be a gross breach of the unity of action, to ex­hibit upon the stage two separate actions at the same time; and therefore to preserve this unity, it is necessary that each person­age introduced during an act, be linked to those in possession of the stage, so as to join all in one action. These things follow from the very conception of an act, which admits not the slightest interruption. The moment the representation is intermitted, there is an end of that act; and we have no other notion of a new act, but where after a pause or interval, the representation [Page 292] is again put in motion. French writers, generally speaking, are extremely correct in this particular: the English, on the con­trary, are so irregular as scarce to deserve a criticism: actors not only succeed each o­ther in the same place without connection; but, what is still worse, they frequently succeed each other in different places. This change of place in the same act, ought ne­ver to be indulged; for, beside breaking the unity of the act, it has a disagreeable effect. After an interval, the mind can readily accommodate itself to any place that is necessary, just as readily as at the com­mencement of the play; but during the re­presentation, the mind rejects change of place. From the foregoing censure must be excepted the Mourning Bride of Con­greve, where regularity concurs with the beauty of sentiment and of language, to make it one of the most complete pieces England has to boast of I must acknowledge, how­ever, that in point of regularity, this ele­gant performance is not altogether unex­ceptionable. In the four first acts, the u­nities of place and time are strictly observed: [Page 293] but in the last act, there is a capital error with respect to unity of place. In the three first scenes of that act, the place of action is a room of state, which is changed to a prison in the fourth scene: the chain of the actors withal is broken; for the persons in­troduced in the prison, are different from those who made their appearance in the room of state. This remarkable interrup­tion of the representation, makes in effect two acts instead of one: and therefore, if it be a rule, that a play ought not to con­sist of more acts than five, this performance is so far defective in point of regularity. I may add, that even admitting six acts, the irregularity would not be altogether removed, without a longer pause in the re­presentation than is allowed in the acting; for it requires more than a momentary in­terruption, to enable the imagination rea­dily to accommodate itself to a new place, or to prorogation of time. In The Way of the World, of the same author, unity of place is preserved during every act, and a stricter unity of time during the whole play than is necessary.

CHAP. XXIV. Gardening and Architecture.

THE books that have been composed upon architecture and upon embel­lishing ground, abound in practi­cal instruction necessary for a mechanic: but in vain would we rummage them for rational principles to improve our taste. In a general system, it might be thought suf­ficient to have unfolded the principles that govern these and other fine arts, leaving the application to the reader: but as I would neglect no opportunity of illustrating these principles, I propose to give a speci­men of their application to gardening and architecture, being favourite arts, though I profess no peculiar skill in either.

Gardening was at first an useful art: in the garden of Alcinoous, described by Ho­mer, we find nothing done for pleasure [Page 295] merely. But gardening is now improved into a fine art; and when we talk of a gar­den without any epithet, a pleasure garden, by way of eminence, is understood. The garden of Alcinoous, in modern language, was but a kitchen-garden. Architecture has run the same course. It continued ma­ny ages an useful art merely, before it aspi­red to be classed with the fine arts. Archi­tecture therefore and gardening must be handled in a twofold view, as being useful arts as well as fine arts. The reader how­ever will not here expect rules for impro­ving any work of art in point of utility. It is no part of my plan to treat of any useful art as such. But there is a beauty in uti­lity; and in discoursing of beauty, that of u­tility ought not to be neglected. This leads us to consider gardens and buildings in differ­ent views: they may be destined for use solely, for beauty solely, or for both. Such variety in the destination, bestows upon gardening and architecture a great com­mand of beauties complex not less than va­rious, which makes it difficult to form an accurate taste in these arts. And hence [Page 296] that difference and wavering of taste which is more remarkable here than in any art that has but a single destination.

Architecture and gardening cannot o­therwise entertain the mind, than by raising certain agreeable emotions or feelings; and before we descend to particulars, these arts shall be presented in a general view, by showing what are the emotions or feelings that can be raised by them. Poetry, as to its power of raising emotions, possesses justly the first place among the fine arts; for scarce one emotion of human nature is be­yond its reach. Painting and sculpture are more circumscribed, having the command of no emotions but what are produced by sight. They are peculiarly successful in expressing painful passions, which are dis­play'd by external signs extremely legible*. Gardening, beside the emotions of beauty by means of regularity, order, proportion, colour, and utility, can raise emotions of grandeur, of sweetness, of gaiety, melan­choly, wildness, and even of surprise or [Page 297] wonder. In architecture, regularity, or­der, and proportion, and the beauties that result from them, are still more conspicuous than in gardening. But with respect to the beauty of colour, architecture is far inferior. Grandeur can be expressed in a building, perhaps more successfully than in a garden; but as to the other emotions above men­tioned, architecture hitherto has not been brought to the perfection of expressing them distinctly. To balance this defect, archi­tecture can display the beauty of utility in the highest perfection.

But gardening possesses one advantage, which never can be equalled in the other art. A garden may be so contrived, as in various scenes to raise successively all its dif­ferent emotions. But to operate this deli­cious effect, the garden must be extensive, so as to admit a slow succession: for a small garden, comprehended at one view, ought to be confined to one expression*: it may be gay, it may be sweet, it may be gloomy; but an attempt to mix these, would create [Page 298] a jumble of emotions not a little unpleasant. For the same reason, a building, even the most magnificent, is necessarily confined to one expression.

Architecture, considered as a fine art, instead of rivaling gardening in its progress toward perfection, seems not far advanced beyond its infant-state. To bring it to ma­turity, two things mainly are wanted. First, A greater variety of parts and ornaments than it seems provided with. Gardening here has greatly the advantage: it is pro­vided with such plenty and such variety of materials, that it must be the fault of the artists, if the spectator be not entertained with different scenes, and affected with va­rious emotions. But materials in architec­ture are so scanty, that artists hitherto have not been successful in raising emotions, other than those of beauty and grandeur. With respect to the former, there are indeed plenty of means, regularity, order, symme­try, simplicity; and with respect to the lat­ter, the addition of size is sufficient. But though it be evident, that every building ought to have a certain character or expres­sion [Page 299] suitable to its destination; yet this is a refinement which artists have scarce ventu­red upon. A death's head and bones em­ploy'd in monumental buildings, will in­deed produce an emotion of gloom and me­lancholy: but every ornament of this kind, if these can be termed so, ought to be re­jected, because they are in themselves disa­greeable. The other thing wanted to bring the art to perfection, is, to ascertain the pre­cise impression made by every single part and ornament, cupolas, spires, columns, carvings, statues, vases, &c. For in vain will an artist attempt rules for employing these, either singly or in combination, un­til the different emotions or feelings they produce be distinctly explained. Garden­ing in this particular hath also the advan­tage. The several emotions raised by trees, rivers, cascades, plains, eminences, and o­ther materials it employs, are understood; and the nature of each can be described with some degree of precision, which is done occasionally in the foregoing parts of this work.

[Page 300] In gardening as well as in architecture, simplicity ought to be the governing taste. Profuse ornament hath no better effect than to confound the eye, and to prevent the object from making an impression as one entire whole. An artist destitute of genius for capital beauties, is naturally prompted to supply the defect by crowding his plan with slight embellishments. Hence in gar­dens, triumphal arches, Chinese houses, temples, obelisks, cascades, fountains, with­out end; and hence in buildings, pillars, vases, statues, and a profusion of carved work. Thus a woman who has no just taste, is apt to overcharge every part of her dress with ornament. Superfluity of deco­ration hath another bad effect: it gives the object a diminutive look. An island in a wide extended lake, makes it appear larger; but an artificial lake, which must always be little, appears still less by making an island in it*.

In forming plans for embellishing a field, an artist void of taste deals in straight lines, [Page 301] circles, squares; because these show best upon paper. He perceives not, that to hu­mour and adorn nature is the perfection of his art; and that nature, neglecting regula­rity, reacheth superior beauties by distribu­ting her objects in great variety with a bold hand. A large field laid out with strict re­gularity, is stiff and artificial. Nature in­deed, in organized bodies comprehended under one view, studies regularity; which, for the same reason, ought to be studied in architecture: but in large objects, which cannot otherwise be surveyed than in parts and by succession, regularity and uniformi­ty would be useless properties, because they cannot be discovered by the eye*. Na­ture therefore, in her large works, neglects these properties; and in copying nature the artist ought to neglect them.

Having thus far carried on a comparison betwixt gardening and architecture, I pro­ceed to rules peculiar to each; and I begin [Page 302] with gardening. The simplest idea of a garden, is that of a spot embellished with a number of natural objects, trees, walks, polish'd parterres, flowers, streams, &c. One more complex comprehends statues and buildings, that nature and art may be mutually ornamental. A third approach­ing nearer perfection, is of objects assem­bled together, in order to produce, not only an emotion of beauty, essential to gardens of every kind, but also some other particular emotion, grandeur, for example, gaiety, or any other of those above mentioned. The most perfect idea of a garden is an im­provement upon the third, requiring the adjustment of the several parts, in such a manner as to inspire all the different emo­tions that can be raised by gardening. In this idea of a garden, the arrangement is an important circumstance; for it has been shown, that some emotions figure best in conjunction, and that others ought always to appear in succession and never in con­junction. I have had occasion to observe above*, that when the most opposite emo­tions, [Page 303] such as gloominess and gaiety, still­ness and activity, follow each other in suc­cession, the pleasure on the whole will be the greatest; but that opposite or dissimilar emotions ought not to be united, because they produce an unpleasant mixture*. For that reason, a ruin, affording a sort of me­lancholy pleasure, ought not to be seen from a flower-parterre, which is gay and chear­ful. But to pass immediately from an exhilerating object to a ruin, has a glo­rious effect; for each of the emotions is the more sensibly felt by being contrasted with the other. Similar emotions, on the other hand, such as gaiety and sweetness, stillness and gloominess, motion and gran­deur, ought to be raised together; for their effects upon the mind are greatly heightened by their conjunction.

Kent's method of embellishing a field, is admirable. It is painting a field with beautiful objects, natural and artificial, dis­posed like colours upon a canvas. It re­quires indeed more genius to paint in the [Page 304] gardening way. In forming a landscape up­on a canvas, no more is required but to ad­just the figures to each other: an artist who lays out ground in Kent's manner, has an additional task, which is to adjust his figures to the several varieties of the field.

One garden must be distinguished from a plurality; and yet it is not obvious where­in the unity of a garden consists. A notion of unity is indeed suggested from viewing a garden surrounding a palace, with views from each window, and walks leading to every corner. But there may be a garden without a house. In this case, I must pro­nounce, that what makes it one garden, is the unity of design, every single spot ap­pearing part of a whole. The gardens of Versailles, properly expressed in the plural number, being no fewer than sixteen, are indeed all of them connected with the pa­lace, but have scarce any mutual connec­tion: they appear not like parts of one whole, but rather like small gardens in contiguity. Were these gardens at some distance from each other, they would have a better effect. Their junction breeds con­fusion [Page 305] of ideas, and upon the whole gives less pleasure than would be felt in a slower succession.

Regularity is required in that part of a garden which joins the dwelling-house; for being considered as a more immediate accessory, it ought to partake the regularity of the principal object*. But in proportion to the distance from the house considered as [Page 306] the centre, regularity ought less and less to be studied. In an extensive plan, it hath a fine effect to lead the mind insensibly from regularity to a bold variety giving an im­pression of grandeur. And grandeur ought to be studied as much as possible, even in a more confined plan, by avoiding a multipli­city of small parts*. Nothing contributes more to grandeur, than a right disposition of trees. Let them be scattered extremely thin near the dwelling-house, and thicken­ed in proportion to their distance: distant eminences to be filled with trees, and laid open to view. A small garden, on the o­ther hand, which admits not grandeur, ought to be strictly regular.

Milton, describing the garden of Eden, prefers justly the grand taste to that of re­gularity.

Flowers worthy of paradise, which not nice art
In beds and curious knots; but Nature boon
Pour'd forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain;
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
[Page 307] The open field, and where the unpierc'd shade
Imbrown'd the noontide-bow'rs.
Paradise Lost, b. 4.

In the manner of planting a wood or thicket, much art may be display'd. A common centre of walks, termed a star, from whence are seen a number of remark­able objects, appears too artificial to be a­greeable. The crowding withal so many objects together, lessens the pleasure that would be felt in a slower succession. A­bandoning therefore the star, being stiff and formal, let us try to substitute some form more natural, that will lay open all the remarkable objects in the neighbour­hood. This may be done by openings in the wood at various distances, which, in walking, bring successively under the eye every object as by accident. Some o­penings display single objects, some a plu­rality in a line, and some a rapid succession of them. In this plan, the mind at in­tervals is roused and cheared by agreeable objects; and the scene is greatly heightened by the surprise it occasions when we stumble, [Page 308] as it were, upon objects of which we had no expectation.

As gardening is not an inventive art, but an imitation of nature, or rather nature it­self ornamented; it follows necessarily, that every thing unnatural ought to be rejected with disdain. Statues of wild beasts vomi­ting water, a common ornament in gardens, prevails in those of Versailles. Is this or­nament in a good taste? A jet d'eau, being purely artificial, may, without disgust, be tortured into a thousand shapes: but a re­presentation of what really exists in nature, admits not any unnatural circumstance. These statues therefore in the gardens of Versailles must be condemned: and yet so insensible has the artist been to just imita­tion, as to have display'd his vicious taste without the least colour or disguise. A life­less statue of an animal pouring out water, may be endured without much disgust. But here the lions and wolves are put in violent action: each has seized its prey, a deer or a lamb, in act to devour. And yet, instead of extended claws and open mouth, the whole, as by a hocus-pocus trick, is con­verted [Page 309] into a different scene: the lion, forgetting his prey, pours out water plenti­fully; and the deer, forgetting its danger, performs the same operation; a representa­tion not less absurd than that in the opera, where Alexander the Great, after mounting the wall of a town besieged, turns about and entertains his army with a song.

In gardening, every lively exhibition of what is beautiful in nature has a fine ef­fect: on the other hand, distant and faint imitations are displeasing to every one of taste. The cutting evergreens in the shape of animals, is a very ancient prac­tice; as appears from the epistles of Pliny, who seems to be a great admirer of this puerile conceit. The propensity to imitation gave birth to this practice; and has supported it wonderfully long, consider­ing how faint and insipid the imitation is. But the vulgar, great and small, devoid of taste, are entertained with the oddness and singularity of a resemblance, however di­stant, betwixt a tree and an animal. An at­tempt, in the gardens of Versailles, to imi­tate [Page 310] a grove of trees by a group of jets d'eau, appears, for the same reason, not less ridi­culous.

In laying out a garden, every thing tri­vial or whimsical ought to be avoided. Is a labyrinth then to be justified? It is a mere conceit, like that of composing verses in the shape of an axe or an egg. The walks and hedges may be agreeable; but in the form of a labyrinth, they serve to no end but to puzzle. A riddle is a con­ceit not so mean; because the solution is a proof of sagacity, which affords no aid in tracing a labyrinth.

The gardens of Versailles, executed with infinite expence by men at that time in high repute, are a lasting monument of a taste the most vicious and depraved. The faults above mentioned, instead of being a­voided, are chosen as beauties, and multi­plied without end. Nature, it would seem, was deemed too vulgar to be imitated in the works of a magnificent monarch; and for that reason preference was given to things unnatural, which probably were mistaken for supernatural. I have often a­mused [Page 311] myself with a fanciful resemblance betwixt these gardens and the Arabian tales. Each of them is a performance in­tended for the amusement of a great king: in the sixteen gardens of Versailles there is no unity of design, more than in the thou­sand and one Arabian tales: and, lastly, they are equally unnatural; groves of jets d'eau, statues of animals conversing in the manner of Aesop, water issuing out of the mouths of wild beasts, give an impression of fairy-land and witchcraft, not less than diamond-palaces, invisible rings, spells and incantations.

A straight road is the most agreeable, because it shortens the journey. But in an embellished field, a straight walk has an air of stiffness and confinement: and at any rate is less agreeable than a winding or wa­ving walk; for in surveying the beauties of a fine field, we love to roam from place to place at freedom. Winding walks have an­other advantage: at every step they open new views. In short, the walks in a field intended for entertainment, ought not to have any appearance of a road. My inten­tion [Page 312] is not to make a journey, but to feast my eye with the beauties of art and nature. This rule excludes not long straight o­penings terminating upon distant objects. These, beside variety, never fail to raise an emotion of grandeur, by extending in ap­pearance the size of the field. An opening without a terminating object, soon closes upon the eye: but an object, at whatever distance, continues the opening; and deludes the spectator into a conviction, that the trees which confine the view are continued till they join the object. Straight walks also in recesses do extremely well: they vary the scenery, and are favourable to medita­tion.

An avenue ought not to be directed in a straight line upon a dwelling-house: bet­ter far an oblique approach in a waving line, with single trees and other scattered objects interposed. In a direct approach, the first appearance continues the same to the end: we see a house at a distance, and we see it all along in the same spot without any variety. In an oblique approach, the intervening objects put the house seemingly [Page 313] in motion: it moves with the passenger, and appears to direct its course so as hospi­tably to intercept him. An oblique ap­proach contributes also to variety: the house being seen successively in different direc­tions, takes on at every step a new figure.

A garden on a flat ought to be highly and variously ornamented, in order to occupy the mind and prevent its regretting the insi­pidity of an uniform plain. Artificial mounts in this view are common: but no person has thought of an artificial walk ele­vated high above the plain. Such a walk is airy, and tends to elevate the mind: it extends and varies the prospect: and it makes the plain, seen from a height, ap­pear more agreeable.

Whether should a ruin be in the Gothic or Grecian form? In the former, I say; because it exhibits the triumph of time over strength, a melancholy but not unpleasant thought. A Grecian ruin suggests rather the triumph of barbarity over taste, a gloo­my and discouraging thought.

Fountains are seldom in a good taste. Statues of animals vomiting water, which [Page 314] prevail every where, stand condemned. A statue of a whale spouting water upward from its head, would in one sense be natu­ral, as whales of a certain species have that power. The design however would scarce be relished, because its singularity would give it the appearance of being un­natural. There is another reason against it, that the figure of a whale is in itself not a­greeable. In the many fountains in and about Rome, statues of fishes are frequently employ'd to support a large basin of water. This unnatural conceit cannot be otherwise explained, than by the connection betwixt water and the fish that swim in it; which by the way is a proof of the influence that even the slighter connections have on the mind. The only good design for a foun­tain I have met with, is what follows. In an artificial rock, rugged and abrupt, there is a cavity out of sight at the top: the wa­ter, convey'd to it by a pipe, pours or trickles down the broken parts of the rock, and is collected into a basin at the foot: it is so contrived, as to make the water fall in sheets or in rills at pleasure.

[Page 315] Hitherto a garden has been treated as a work intended solely for pleasure, or, in o­ther words, for giving impressions of intrin­sic beauty. What comes next in order is the beauty of a garden destined for use, termed relative beauty *; and this branch shall be dispatched in a few words. In gar­dening, luckily, relative beauty need never stand in opposition to intrinsic beauty. All the ground that can be requisite for use, makes but a small proportion of an orna­mented field; and may be put in any corner without obstructing the disposition of the capital parts. At the same time, a kitchen­garden or an orchard is susceptible of intrin­sic beauty; and may be so artfully disposed among the other parts, as by variety and contrast to contribute to the beauty of the whole. In this respect, architecture is far more intricate, as will be seen immediately: for there, it being often requisite to blend intrinsic and relative beauty in the same building, it becomes a difficult task to at­tain both in any perfection.

[Page 316] As gardening is brought to greater per­fection in China than in any other known country, an account of the means practised by Chinese artists to inspire all the various emotions of gardening, will be a fine illu­stration of the foregoing doctrine. In gene­ral, it is an indispensable law with them, never to deviate from nature: but in order to produce that degree of variety which is pleasing, every method is used that is consistent with nature. Nature is strictly imitated in the banks of their artificial lakes and rivers; which sometimes are bare and gravelly, sometimes covered with wood quite to the brink of the water. To flat spots adorned with flowers and shrubs, are opposed others steep and rocky. We see meadows covered with cattle; rice-grounds that run into the lakes; groves into which enter navigable creeks and rivulets. These generally conduct to some interesting object, a magnificent building, terraces cut in a mountain, a cascade, a grotto, an artificial rock, and other such inventions. Their ar­tificial rivers are generally serpentine; some­times narrow, noisy, and rapid; sometimes [Page 317] deep, broad, and slow: and to make the scene still more active, mills and other mo­ving machines are often erected. In the lakes are interspersed islands; some barren, surrounded with rocks and shoals; others inriched with every thing that art and na­ture can furnish. Even in their cascades they avoid regularity, as forcing nature out of its course: the waters are seen bursting out from among the caverns and windings of the artificial rocks; here an impetuous cataract, there many lesser falls: and in its passage, the water is often impeded by trees and heaps of stones, that seem brought down by the violence of the current. Straight lines, generally avoided, are some­times indulged, in order to take the advan­tage of any interesting object at a distance, by directing openings upon it.

Sensible of the influence of contrast, the Chinese artists deal in sudden transitions, and in opposing to each other, forms, co­lours, and shades. The eye is conducted, from limited to extensive views, and from lakes and rivers to plains, hills, and woods: to dark and gloomy colours, are opposed [Page 318] the more brilliant: the different masses of light and shade are disposed in such a man­ner, as to render the composition distinct in its parts, and striking on the whole. In plantations, the trees are artfully mixed ac­cording to their shape and colour; those of spreading branches with the pyramidal, and the light with the deep green. They even introduce decay'd trees, some erect, and some half out of the ground*. In order to heighten contrast, much bolder strokes are risked. They sometimes introduce rough rocks, dark caverns, trees ill formed and seemingly rent by tempests, or blasted by lightning, a building in ruins or half consumed by fire. But to relieve the mind from the harshness of such objects, they are always succeeded by the sweetest and most beautiful scenes.

The Chinese study to give play to the i­magination. They hide the termination of their lakes: the view of a cascade is fre­quently [Page 319] interrupted by trees, through which are seen obscurely the waters as they fall. The imagination once roused, is disposed to magnify every object.

Nothing is more studied in Chinese gar­dens than to raise wonder or surprise. In scenes calculated for that end, every thing appears like fairy-land; a torrent, for ex­ample, convey'd under ground, producing an uncommon sound that puzzles a stranger to guess what it may be; and, to increase our wonder by multiplying such uncommon sounds, the rocks and buildings are contri­ved with cavities and interstices. Sometimes one is led insensibly into dark caverns, termi­nating unexpectedly in a landscape inriched with all that nature affords the most deli­cious. At other times, beautiful walks in­sensibly conduct us to a rough uncultivated field, where bushes briers and stones in­terrupt the passage: when we look about for an outlet, some rich prospect unexpect­edly opens to view. Another artifice is, to obscure some capital part by trees or other interposed objects: our curiosity is raised to know what lies beyond; and after a few [Page 320] steps, we are greatly surprised with some scene totally different from what was ex­pected.

I close these cursory observations up­on gardening, with a remark that must touch every reader. Rough uncultivated ground, dismal to the eye, inspires peevish­ness and discontent. May not this be one cause of the harsh manners of savages? In a field richly ornamented, are collected beautiful objects of various kinds. Such a field displays in full lustre, the goodness of the Deity and the ample provision he has made for our happiness; which must fill every spectator, with gratitude to his Maker and with benevolence to his fellow-creatures. Other fine arts may be perverted to excite irregular, and e­ven vicious, emotions: but gardening, which inspires the purest and most refined pleasures, cannot but promote every good affection. The gaiety and harmony of mind it produceth, must naturally incline the spectator to communicate his satisfac­tion to others by acts of humanity and kindness.

[Page 321] Having finished what occurred on gar­dening, I proceed to rules and observations that more peculiarly concern architecture. Architecture being an useful as well as a fine art, buildings and parts of buildings must be distinguished into three kinds, viz. what are intended for utility solely, what for or­nament solely, and what for both. A build­ing intended for utility solely, such as de­tached offices, ought in every part to corre­spond precisely to that intention. The least deviation from use, though contributing to ornament, will be disagreeable. For every work of use being considered as a means to an end, its perfection as a means is the ca­pital circumstance; and every other beauty, in opposition, is neglected as improper and impertinent. In things again intended for ornament, such as pillars, obelisks, tri­umphal arches, beauty solely ought to be regarded. A Heathen temple must be con­sidered as merely ornamental; for being dedicated to some deity, and not intended for habitation, it is susceptible of any figure and any embellishment that fancy can sug­gest and beauty require. The great diffi­culty [Page 322] of contrivance, respects buildings that are intended for pleasure as well as for use. These ends, employing different and often opposite means, are with difficulty reconci­led. In palaces, and other buildings suffi­ciently extensive to admit a variety of useful contrivance, regularity justly takes the lead. But in dwelling-houses that are too small for variety of contrivance, utility ought to prevail; neglecting regularity so far as it stands in opposition to convenience.

Intrinsic and relative beauty being found­ed on different principles, must be handled separately; and I begin with relative beauty, as of the greater importance.

The proportions of a door, are determi­ned by the use to which it is destined. The door of a dwelling-house, which ought to correspond to the human size, is confined to seven or eight feet in height, and three or four in breadth. The proportions pro­per for the door of a barn or coach-house, are widely different. Another considera­tion enters. To study intrinsic beauty in a coach-house or barn, intended merely for use, is obviously improper. But a dwell­ing-house [Page 323] may admit ornaments; and the principal door of a palace demands all the grandeur that is consistent with the fore­going proportions dictated by utility. It ought to be elevated and approached by steps; and it may be adorned with pillars supporting an architrave, or in any other beautiful manner. The door of a church ought to be wide, in order to afford an easy passage for a multitude. The wideness, at the same time, regulates the height, as will appear by and by. The size of windows ought to be proportioned to that of the room they serve with light; for if the apperture be not sufficiently large to con­vey light to every corner, the room is dark and gloomy. Steps of stairs ought to be ac­commodated to the human figure, without regarding any other proportion: these steps accordingly are the same in large and in small buildings, because both are inhabited by men of the same size.

I proceed to consider intrinsic beauty blended with that which is relative. A cube in itself is more agreeable than a parallelo­pipedon, which will constantly hold in small [Page 324] figures. But a large building in the form a cube, appears lumpish and heavy; while the other figure, set on its smaller base, is by its elevation more agreeable: and hence the beauty of a Gothic tower. But let us suppose this parallelopipedon destin'd for a dwelling-house, to make way for relative beauty. Here utility prevails over elevation; and a parallelopipedon, inconvenient by its height, is set upon its larger base. The loftiness is gone; but that loss is more than compensated by additional convenience; and for that reason the form of a building spread more upon the ground than raised in height, is always preferred for a dwelling-house, without excepting even the most sumptuous palace.

With respect to the divisions within, utility requires that the rooms be rectangular; for otherwise void spaces will be left of no use. A hexagonal figure leaves no void spa­ces; but then it determines the rooms to be all of one size, which is extremely incon­venient. A cube will at first be pronoun­ced the most agreeable figure; and this may hold in a room of a moderate size. [Page 325] But in a very large room, utility requires a different figure. The chief convenience of a great room, is unconfined motion. This directs us to the greatest length that can be obtained. But a square room of a great size is inconvenient, by removing far from the hand, chairs and tables, which, when unemploy'd, must be ranged along the sides of the room. Utility therefore requires a large room to be a parallelogram. This figure, at the same time, is the best calcu­lated for receiving light; because, to avoid cross-light, all the windows ought to be in one wall; and if the opposite wall be at such distance as not to be fully lighted, the room must be obscure. The height of a room exceeding nine or ten feet, has little or no relation to utility; and therefore pro­portion is the only rule for determining the height when above that number of feet.

As all artists who deal in the beautiful are naturally prone to entertain the eye, they have great opportunity to exert their taste upon palaces and sumptuous buildings, where, as above observed, intrinsic beauty ought to have the ascendant over that which [Page 326] is relative. But such propensity is unhappy with respect to private dwelling-houses; be­cause in these, relative beauty cannot be dis­play'd in any perfection, without abandon­ing intrinsic beauty. There is no opportu­nity for great variety of form in a small house; and in an edifice of this kind, inter­nal convenience has not hitherto been hap­pily adjusted to external regularity. I am apt to believe, that an accurate coincidence here, is beyond the reach of art. And yet architects always split upon this rock; for they never will give over attempting to re­concile these two incompatibles. How else should it be accounted for, that of the end­less variety of private dwelling-houses, there is not one to be found, that is generally a­greed upon as a good pattern? The un­wearied propensity to make a house regular as well as convenient, forces the architect, in some articles, to sacrifice convenience to regularity, and in others, regularity to con­venience. By this means, the house, which turns out neither regular nor convenient, never fails to displease. The faults are ob­vious, [Page 327] and the difficulty of doing better is known to the artist only*.

Nothing can be more evident, than that the form of a dwelling-house ought to be suited to the climate; and yet no error is more common, than to copy in Britain the form of Italian houses; not forgetting even those parts that are purposely contrived for air, and for excluding the sun. I shall give one or two instances. A colonnade along the front of a building, hath a fine effect in Greece and Italy, by producing coolness and obscurity, agreeable properties in warm and luminous climates. The cold climate of Britain is altogether averse to this ornament. A colonnade therefore, can never be proper in this country, unless when employ'd to communicate with a detached building. A­gain, a logio opening the house to the north, contrived in Italy for gathering cool air, is, if possible, still more improper for this cli­mate. Scarce endurable in summer, it, in [Page 328] winter, exposes the house to the bitter blasts of the north, and to every shower of snow and rain.

Having discussed what appeared necessa­ry to be said upon relative beauty, singly considered, or in combination with intrinsic beauty, the next step is, to view architecture as one of the fine arts, and to examine those buildings and parts of buildings that are solely calculated to please the eye. In the works of nature, grand and magnificent, variety prevails. The timid hand of art, is guided by rule and compass. Hence it is, that in works which imitate nature, the great art is to hide every appearance of art; which is done by avoiding regularity and indulging variety. But in works of art that are ori­ginal and not imitative, such as architecture, strict regularity and uniformity ought to be studied so far as consistent with utility.

In buildings intended to please the eye, proportion is not less essential than regulari­ty and uniformity; for we are so framed by nature, as to be pleased equally with each of these. By many writers it is taken for granted, that in all the parts of a building [Page 329] there are certain strict proportions which please the eye; precisely as there are certain strict proportions of sound which please the ear; and that in both the slightest deviation is equally disagreeable. Others again seem to relish more a comparison betwixt propor­tion in numbers and proportion in quantity; and hold that the same proportions are a­greeable in both. The proportions, for ex­ample, of the numbers 16, 24, and 36 are agreeable; and so, say they, are the pro­portions of a room, the height of which is 16 feet, the breadth 24, and the length 36. This point, with relation to the present sub­ject, being of importance, the reader will examine it with attention and impartiality. To refute the notion of a resemblance be­twixt musical proportions and those of ar­chitecture, it might be sufficient to observe in general, that the one is addressed to the ear, the other to the eye; and that objects of different senses have no resemblance, nor indeed any relation to each other. But more particularly, what pleases the ear in harmony, is not the proportion of the strings of the instrument, but of the sounds that [Page 330] these strings produce. In architecture, on the contrary, it is the proportion of different quantities that pleases the eye, without the least relation to sound. Beside, were quan­tity here to be the sole ground of compari­son, we have no reason to presume, that there is any natural analogy betwixt the proportions that please in a building and the proportions of strings that produce concor­dant sounds. I instance in particular an oc­tave, the most complete of all concords. An octave is produced by two strings of the same tension and diameter, and as to length in the proportion of one to two. I do not know, that this proportion will be agreeable in any two parts of a building. I add, that concordant notes are produced by wind in­struments, which, as to proportion, appear not to have even the slightest resemblance to a building.

With respect to the other notion institu­ting a comparison betwixt proportion in numbers and proportion in quantity, I urge, that number and quantity are so distinct from each other, as to afford no probability of any natural relation betwixt them. Quan­tity [Page 331] is a real quality of every substance or body: number is not a real quality, but merely a conception that arises upon view­ing a plurality of things in succession. Be­cause an arithmetical proportion is agreeable in numbers, have we any reason to conclude that it must also be agreeable in quantity? At this rate, a geometrical proportion and many others, ought also to be agreeable in both. A certain proportion may coincide in both; and among an endless variety of proportions, it would be wonderful, if there never should be a coincidence. One ex­ample is given of this coincidence, in the numbers 16, 24, and 36; but to be con­vinced that it is merely accidental, we need but reflect, that the same proportions are not applicable to the external figure of a house, and far less to a column.

That we are framed by nature to relish proportion as well as regularity, is indispu­table: but that agreeable proportion, like concord in sounds, is confined to certain precise measures, is not warranted by expe­rience: on the contrary, we learn from experience, that various proportions are e­qually [Page 332] agreeable, that proportion is never tied down to precise measures but admits more and less, and that we are not sensible of disproportion till the difference betwixt the quantities compared become the most striking circumstance. Columns evidently admit different proportions, equally agree­able. The case is the same in houses, rooms, and other parts of a building. And this opens an interesting reflection. The fore­going difference betwixt concord and pro­portion, is an additional instance of that ad­mirable harmony which subsists among the several branches of the human frame. The ear is an accurate judge of sounds and of their smallest differences; and that concord in sounds should be regulated by accurate measures, is perfectly well suited to this ac­curacy of perception. The eye is more un­certain about the size of a large object, than of one that is small; and in different situa­tions the same object appears of different si­zes. Delicacy of feeling therefore with re­spect to proportion in quantities, would be an useless quality. It is much better order­ed, that there should be such a latitude with [Page 333] respect to agreeable proportions, as to cor­respond to the uncertainty of the eye with respect to quantity.

But this scene is too interesting to be passed over in a cursory view: all its beauties are not yet display'd. I proceed to observe, that to make the eye as delicate with re­spect to proportion as the ear is with respect to concord, would not only be an useless quality, but be the source of continual pain and uneasiness. I need go no farther for a proof than the very room I possess at pre­sent: every step I take, varies to me, in appearance, the proportion of the length and breadth. At that rate, I should not be happy but in one precise spot, where the proportion appears agreeable. Let me fur­ther observe, that it would be singular in­deed, to find in the nature of man, any two principles in perpetual opposition to each other. This would precisely be the case, if proportion were circumscribed like concord; for it would exclude all but one of those proportions that utility requires in different buildings, and in different parts of the same building.

[Page 334] It is ludicrous to observe all writers ac­knowledging the necessity of accurate pro­portions, and yet differing widely about them. Laying afide reasoning and philoso­phy, one fact universally agreed on ought to have undeceived them, that the same proportions which please in a model are not agreeable in a large building. A room 48 feet in length and 24 in breadth and height, is well proportioned; but a room 12 feet wide and high and 24 long, looks like a gallery.

Perrault, in his comparison of the ancients and moderns*, is the only author who runs to the opposite extreme; maintaining, that the different proportions assigned to each order of columns are arbitrary, and that the beauty of these proportions is en­tirely the effect of custom. This bewrays ignorance of human nature, which evident­ly delights in proportion, as well as in regu­larity, order, and propriety. But without any acquaintance with human nature, a single reflection might have convinced him [Page 335] of his error; that if these proportions had not originally been agreeable, they could not have been established by custom. If a thing be universal, it must be natural.

To illustrate the present point, I shall add a few examples of the agreeableness of dif­ferent proportions. In a sumptuous edifice, the capital rooms ought to be large, for o­therwise they will not be proportioned to the size of the building. On the other hand, a very large room in a small house, is dis­proportioned. But in things thus related, the mind requires not a precise or single pro­portion, rejecting all others; on the contra­ry, many different proportions are made e­qually welcome. It is only when a propor­tion becomes loose and distant, that the a­greeableness abates, and at last vanisheth. In all buildings accordingly, we find rooms of different proportions equally agreeable, even where the proportion is not influenced by utility. With respect to the height of a room, the proportion it ought to bear to the length and breadth, is extremely arbitrary; and it cannot be otherwise, considering the uncertainty of the eye as to the height of a [Page 336] room, when it exceeds 17 or 18 feet. In columns again, even architects must con­fess, that the proportion of height and thick­ness varies betwixt 8 diameters and 10, and that every proportion betwixt these two ex­tremes is agreeable. But this is not all. There must certainly be a further variation of proportion, depending on the size of the column. A row of columns 10 feet high, and a row twice that height, require differ­ent proportions. The intercolumniations must also differ in proportion according to the height of the row.

Proportion of parts is not only itself a beauty, but is inseparably connected with a beauty of the first magnitude. Parts that in conjunction appear proportional, never fail separately to produce similar emotions; which existing together, are extremely plea­sant, as I have had occasion to show*. Thus a room of which the parts are all fine­ly adjusted to each other, strikes us with the beauty of proportion. It produceth at the same time a pleasure far superior. The [Page 337] length, the breadth, the height, the win­dows, raise each of them separately an emo­tion. These emotions are similar; and though faint when felt separately, they pro­duce in conjunction the emotion of concord or harmony, which is extremely pleasant. On the other hand, where the length of a room far exceeds the breadth, the mind comparing together parts so intimately con­nected, immediately perceives a disagree­ment or disproportion which disgusts. But this is not all. Viewing them separately, different emotions are produced, that of grandeur from the great length, and that of meanness or littleness from the small breadth, which in union are disagreeable by their discordance. Hence it is, that a long gallery, however convenient for exer­cise, is not an agreeable figure of a room. We consider it, like a stable, as destined for use, and expect not that in any other respect it should be agreeable.

Regularity and proportion are essential in buildings destined chiefly or solely to please the eye, because they are the means to pro­duce intrinsic beauty. But a skilful artist [Page 338] will not confine his view to regularity and proportion. He will also study propriety, which is perceived when the form and or­naments of a structure are suited to the pur­pose for which it is appointed. The sense of propriety dictates the following rule, That every building ought to have an expression corresponding to its destination. A palace ought to be sumptuous and grand; a pri­vate dwelling, neat and modest; a play­house, gay and splendid; and a monument, gloomy and melancholy. A Heathen tem­ple has a double destination: it is considered chiefly as a house dedicated to some divini­ty; and in that respect it ought to be grand, elevated, and magnificent: it is considered also as a place of worship; and in that respect it ought to be somewhat dark or gloomy; because dimness produces that tone of mind which is suited to humility and devotion. A Christian church is not considered as a house for the Deity, but merely a place of worship: it ought therefore to be decent and plain, without much ornament: a si­tuation ought to be chosen, humble and retired; because the congregation, during [Page 339] worship, ought to be humble and disenga­ged from the world. Columns, beside their chief destination of being supports, contribute to that peculiar expression which the destination of a building requires: co­lumns of different proportions, serve to ex­press loftiness, lightness, &c. as well as strength. Situation also may contribute to expression: conveniency regulates the situ­ation of a private dwelling-house; but, as I have had occasion to observe*, the situation of a palace ought to be lofty.

And this leads me to examine, whether the situation of a great house, where the artist is limited in his choice, ought in any measure to regulate its form. The con­nection betwixt a great house and the neigh­bouring grounds, though not extremely in­timate, demands however some congruity. It would, for instance, displease us to find an elegant building thrown away upon a wild uncultivated country: congruity requires a polished field for such a building; and be­side the pleasure of congruity, the spectator [Page 340] is sensible of the pleasure of concordance from the similarity of the emotions produ­ced by the two objects. The old Gothic form of building seems well suited to the rough uncultivated regions where it was in­vented. The only mistake was, the trans­ferring this form to the fine plains of France and Italy, better fitted for buildings in the Grecian taste. But by refining upon the Gothic form, every thing in the power of invention has been done, to reconcile it to its new situation. The profuse variety of wild and grand objects about Inverary, de­manded a house in the Gothic form; and every one must approve the taste of the pro­prietor, in adjusting so finely, as he has done, the appearance of his house to that of the country where it is placed.

The external structure of a great house, leads naturally to its internal structure. A large and spacious room, receives us com­monly upon our entrance. This seems to me a bad contrivance in several respects. In the first place, when immediately from the open air we step into such a room, its size in appearance is diminished by contrast: it [Page 341] looks little compared with the great canopy the sky. In the next place, when it reco­vers its grandeur, as it soon doth, it gives a diminutive appearance to the rest of the house: passing from it, every apartment looks little. This room therefore may be aptly compared to the swoln commencement of an epic poem. ‘Bella per Emathios plusquam civilia campos.’ In the third place, by its situation it serves only for a waiting-room, and a pas­sage to the principal apartments. And yet undoubtedly, the room of the great­est size ought to be reserved for com­pany. A great room, which enlarges the mind and gives a certain elevation to the spirits, is destined by nature for conversa­tion. Rejecting therefore this form, I take a hint from the climax in writing for ano­ther form that appears more suitable. My plan is, first a handsome portico, propor­tioned to the size and fashion of the front: this portico leads into a waiting-room of a larger size; and this again to the great [Page 342] room, all by a progression from small to great. If the house be very large, there may be space for the following suit of rooms; first, a portico; second, a passage within the house bounded by rows of co­lumns on each side connected by arcades; third, an octagon room, or of any other fi­gure, about the centre of the building; and, lastly, the great room.

Of all the emotions that can be raised by architecture, grandeur is that which has the greatest influence on the mind. It ought therefore to be the chief study of the artist, to raise this emotion in great build­ings. But it seems unhappy for architecture, that it is necessarily governed by certain prin­ciples opposite to grandeur: the direct ef­fect of regularity and proportion, is to make a building appear less than it is in rea­lity. Any invention to reconcile these with grandeur, would be a capital improvement in architecture.

Next of ornaments, which contribute greatly to give buildings a peculiar expres­sion. It has been a doubt with me, whe­ther a building can regularly admit any or­nament [Page 343] but what is useful, or at least appears to be useful. But considering the double aim of architecture, a fine as well as an useful art, there is no good reason why or­naments may not be added to please the eye without any relation to use. This li­berty is allowed in poetry, painting, and gardening, and why not in architecture con­sidered as a fine art? A private dwelling­house, it is true, and other edifices where use is the chief aim, admit not regularly any ornament but what has the appearance, at least, of use: but temples, triumphal arches, and other buildings intended chiefly or solely for show, may be highly orna­mented.

This suggests a division of ornaments in­to three kinds, viz. ornaments that are beautiful without relation to use, such as statues in niches, vases, basso or alto relievo: next, things in themselves not beautiful, but possessing the beauty of utility by impo­sing on the spectator, and appearing to be of use, blind windows for example: the third kind is, where the thing is in itself beautiful, and also takes on the appearance [Page 344] of use; the case of a pilaster. With re­spect to the second, it is an egregious blun­der, to contrive the ornament so as to make it appear useless. If a blind window there­fore be necessary for regularity, it ought to be so disguised, as not to be distinguished from the real windows. If it appear to be a blind window, it is disgustful, as a vain at­tempt to supply the want of invention. It shows the irregularity in a stronger light; by signifying that a window ought to be there in point of regularity, but that the ar­chitect had not skill sufficient to connect external regularity with internal conve­nience.

From ornaments in general, we descend to a pillar, the chief ornament in great buildings. The destination of a pillar is to support, really or in appearance, another part termed the architrave. With respect to the form of this ornament, I observe, that a circle is a more agreeable figure than a square, a globe than a cube, and a cylin­der than a parallelopipedon. This last, in the language of architecture, is saying, that a column is a more agreeable figure than a [Page 345] pilaster. For that reason, it ought to be preferred, all other circumstances being e­qual. Another reason concurs, that a co­lumn annexed to a wall, which is a plain surface, makes a greater variety than a pi­laster. There is an additional reason for re­jecting pilasters in the external front of a building, arising from a principle unfolded above*, viz. a remarkable tendency in the mind of man, to advance every thing to its perfection as well as to its final issue. If I see a thing obscurely in a dim light, and by disjointed parts, my curiosity is roused, and prompts me, out of the disjointed parts to compose an entire whole. I suppose it to be, for example, a horse. My eye-sight being obedient to this conjecture, I imme­diately perceive a horse, almost as distinctly as in day-light. This principle is applica­ble to the case in hand. The most superb front, at a great distance, appears a plain surface: approaching gradually, we be­gin to perceive inequalities: these inequa­lities, advancing a few steps more, take [Page 346] on the appearance of pillars; but whether round or square, we are uncertain: our curiosity anticipating our progress, cannot rest in suspense: we naturally suppose the most complete pillar, or that which is the most agreeable to the eye; and we imme­diately perceive, or seem to perceive, a number of columns: if upon a near ap­proach we find pilasters only, the disap­pointment makes these pilasters appear disa­greeable; when abstracted from that cir­cumstance, they would only have appeared somewhat less agreeable. But as this de­ception cannot happen in the inner front inclosing a court, I see no reason for exclu­ding pilasters there, when there is any rea­son for preferring them before columns.

With respect now to the parts of a co­lumn, a bare uniform cylinder without base or capital, appears naked and scarce agree­able: it ought therefore to have some fi­nishing at the top and at the bottom. Hence the three chief parts of a column, the shaft, the base, and the capital. Nature undoubtedly requires a certain proportion a­mong these parts, but not limited within [Page 347] precise bounds. I suspect that the propor­tions in use have been influenced in some degree by the human figure; the capital be­ing conceived as the head, the base as the feet. With respect to the base indeed, the principle of utility interposes to vary it from the human figure: the base must be so proportioned to the whole, as to give the column the appearance of stability.

In architecture as well as in gardening, contradictory expressions ought to be avoid­ed. Firmness and solidity are the proper expressions of a pedestal: carved work, on the contrary, ought to be light and deli­cate. A pedestal therefore, whether of a column or of a statue, ought to be sparingly ornamented: the ancients never ventured any bolder ornament than the basso-relievo.

To succeed in allegorical or emblematic ornaments, is no slight effort of genius; for it is extremely difficult to dispose them so in a building as to produce any good effect. The mixing them with realities, makes a mi­serable jumble of truth and fiction*. In a [Page 348] basso-relievo on Antonin's pillar, rain ob­tained by the prayers of a Christian legion, is expressed by joining to the group of sol­diers a rainy Jupiter, with water in abun­dance running from his head and beard. De Piles, fond of the conceit, carefully in­forms his reader, that he must not take this for a real Jupiter, but for a symbol which among the Pagans signified rain: an emblem ought not to make a part of the group representing real objects or real e­vents, but be detached from it, so as even at first view to appear an emblem. But this is not all, nor the chief point. Every emblem ought to be rejected that is not clearly expressive of its meaning: if it be in any degree obscure, it never can be re­lished. The temples of Ancient and Modern Virtue in the gardens of Stow, appear not at first view emblematical; and when we are informed that they are so, it is not easy to gather their meaning. The spectator sees one temple in full repair, another in ruins: but without an explanatory inscrip­tion, he may guess, but cannot be certain, that the former being dedicated to Ancient [Page 349] Virtue, the latter to Modern Virtue, are in­tended a satire upon the present times. On the other hand, a trite emblem, like a trite simile, is disgustful*. Nor ought an emblem more than a simile to be founded on low or familiar objects; for if the objects be not agreeable, as well as their meaning, the emblem upon the whole will not be re­lished. A room in a dwelling-house con­taining a monument to a deceased friend, is dedicated to Melancholy. Its furniture is a clock that strikes every minute to sig­nify how swiftly time passes: upon the mo­nument, weeping figures and other hack­ney'd ornaments commonly found upon tomb-stones, with a stuff'd raven in a corner: verses on death, and other serious subjects, inscribed all around. The objects are too familiar, and the artifice too appa­rent, to produce the intended effect.

The statue of Moses striking a rock from which water actually issues, is also in a false taste; for it is mixing reality with re­presentation: Moses himself may bring [Page 350] water out of the rock, but this miracle is too much for his statue. The same objec­tion lies against a cascade where we see the statue of a water-god pouring out of his urn real water.

It is observed above of gardening, that it contributes to rectitude of manners, by in­spiring gaiety and benevolence. I add an­other observation, That both gardening and architecture contribute to the same end, by inspiring neatness and elegance. It is observed in Scotland, that even a turnpike­road has some influence of this kind upon the low people in the neighbourhood. They acquire a taste for regularity and neat­ness; which is display'd first upon their yards and little inclosures, and next within doors. A taste for regularity and neatness thus gathering strength, comes insensibly to be extended to dress, and even to behaviour and manners.

CHAP. XXV. Standard of Taste.

‘"THAT there is no disputing about taste",’ meaning taste in its most extensive sense, is a saying so ge­nerally received as to have become a proverb. One thing indeed is evident, that if the pro­verb hold true with respect to any one ex­ternal sense, it must hold true with respect to all. If the pleasures of the palate disdain a comparative trial and reject all criticism, the pleasures of touch, of smell, of sound, and even of sight, must be equally privile­ged. At this rate, a man is not within the reach of censure, even where, insensible to beauty, grandeur, or elegance, he prefers the Saracen's head upon a sign-post before the best tablature of Raphael, or a rude Go­thic tower before the finest Grecian build­ing: nor where he prefers the smell of a [Page 352] rotten carcass before that of the most odori­ferous flower: nor jarring discords before the most exquisite harmony.

But we must not stop here. If the plea­sures of external sense be exempted from criticism, why not every one of our plea­sures, from whatever source derived? If taste in the proper sense of the word cannot be disputed, there is as little room for dis­puting it in its figurative sense. The pro­verb accordingly comprehends both; and in that large sense may be resolved into the following general proposition, That with re­spect to the sensitive part of our nature, by which some objects are agreeable some dis­agreeable, there is not such a thing as a good or bad, a right or wrong; that every man's taste is to himself an ultimate standard with­out appeal; and consequently that there is no ground of censure against any one, if such a one there be, who prefers Black­more before Homer, selfishness before be­nevolence, or cowardice before magnanimi­ty.

The proverb in the foregoing instances, is indeed carried very far. It seems difficult, [Page 353] however, to sap its foundation, or with suc­cess to attack it from any quarter. For in comparing the various tastes of individuals, it is not obvious what standard must be ap­pealed to. Is not every man equally a judge of what is agreeable or disagreeable to himself? Doth it not seem odd, and per­haps absurd, that a man ought not to be pleased when he is, or that he ought to be pleased when he is not?

This reasoning may perplex, but, in con­tradiction to sense and feeling, will never afford conviction. A man of taste must ne­cessarily feel the reasoning to be false, how­ever unqualified to detect the fallacy. At the same time, though no man of taste will subscribe to the proverb as holding true in e­very case, no man will venture to affirm that it holds true in no case. Subjects there are undoubtedly, that we may like or dis­like indifferently, without any imputation upon our taste. Were a philosopher to make a scale for human pleasures with ma­ny divisions, in order that the value of each pleasure may be denoted by the place it oc­cupies, he would not think of making di­visions [Page 352] [...] [Page 353] [...] [Page 354] without end, but would rank toge­ther many pleasures arising perhaps from dif­ferent objects, either as being equally va­luable, or differing so imperceptibly as to make a separation unnecessary. Nature hath taken this course, so far as appears to the generality of mankind. There may be subdivisions without end; but we are only sensible of the grosser divisions, comprehend­ing each of them many pleasures of various kinds. To these the proverb is applicable in the strictest sense; for with respect to pleasures of the same rank, what ground can there be for preferring one before ano­ther? If a preference in fact be given by any individual, it cannot be taste, but cu­stom, imitation, or some peculiarity of mind.

Nature in her scale of pleasures, has been sparing of divisions: she hath wisely and benevolently filled every division with many pleasures; in order that individuals may be contented with their own lot, without en­vying the happiness of others: many hands must be employ'd to procure us the conve­niencies of life; and it is necessary that the [Page 355] different branches of business, whether more or less agreeable, be filled with hands. A taste too nice and delicate, would obstruct this plan; for it would crowd some employ­ments, leaving others, not less useful, to­tally neglected. In our present condition, happy it is, that the plurality are not deli­cate in their choice. They fall in readily with the occupations, pleasures, food, and company, that fortune throws in their way; and if at first there be any displeasing cir­cumstance, custom soon makes it easy.

The proverb will be admitted so far as it regards the particulars now explained. But when apply'd in general to every subject of taste, the difficulties to be encountered are insuperable. What shall we say, in parti­cular, as to the difficulty that arises from human nature itself? Do we not talk of a good and a bad taste? of a right and a wrong taste? and upon that supposition, do we not, with great confidence, censure writers, painters, architects, and every one who deals in the fine arts? Are such criticisms absurd and void of foundation? Have the foregoing expressions, familiar in all lan­guages [Page 356] and among all people, no sort of meaning? This can hardly be: what is universal must have a foundation in nature. If we can reach this foundation, the stand­ard of taste will no longer be a secret.

All living creatures are by nature distri­buted into classes; the individuals of each, however diversified by slighter differences, having a wonderful uniformity in their ca­pital parts internal and external. Each class is distinguishable from others by an exter­nal form; and not less distinguishable by an internal constitution, manifested by cer­tain powers, feelings, desires, and actions, peculiar to the individuals of each class. Thus each class may be conceived to have a common nature, which, in framing the individuals belonging to the class, is taken for a model or standard.

Independent altogether of experience, men have a sense or conviction of a com­mon nature or standard, not only in their own species, but in every species of animals. And hence it is a matter of wonder, to find any individual deviating from the common nature of the species, whether in its inter­nal [Page 357] or external construction: a child born with an aversion to its mother's milk, is a matter of wonder, not less than if born with­out a mouth, or with more than one*.

With respect to this common nature or standard, we are so constituted as to con­ceive it to be perfect or right; and conse­quently that individuals ought to be made conformable to it. Every remarkable de­viation accordingly from the standard, makes an impression upon us of imperfection, irre­gularity, or disorder: it is disagreeable and raises in us a painful emotion: monstrous births, exciting the curiosity of a philoso­pher, fail not at the same time to excite a­version in a high degree.

Lastly, we have a conviction, that the common nature of man is invariable not less than universal: we conceive that it hath no relation to time nor to place; but that it will be the same hereafter as at pre­sent, and as it was in time past; the same among all nations and in all corners of the [Page 358] earth. Nor are we deceived: giving al­lowance for the difference of culture and gradual refinement of manners, the fact corresponds to our conviction.

This conviction of a common nature or standard, and of its perfection, is the foun­dation of morality; and accounts clearly for that remarkable conception we have, of a right and a wrong taste in morals. It ac­counts not less clearly for the conception we have of a right and a wrong taste in the fine arts. A person who rejects objects gene­rally agreeable, and delights in objects ge­nerally disagreeable, is condemned as a mon­ster: we disapprove his taste as bad or wrong; and we have a clear conception that he deviates from the common stand­ard. If man were so framed as not to have any notion of a common standard, the pro­verb mentioned in the beginning would hold universally, not only in the fine arts but in morals: upon that supposition, the taste of every man, with respect to both, would to himself be an ultimate standard. But the conviction of a common standard being made a part of our nature, we intuitively conceive a taste to be right or good if con­formable [Page 359] to the common standard, and wrong or bad if disconformable.

No particular concerning human nature is more universal, than the uneasiness a man feels when in matters of importance his o­pinions are rejected by others. Why should difference in opinion create uneasiness, more than difference in stature, in countenance, or in dress? The sense of a common standard is the only principle that can ex­plain this mystery. Every man, generally speaking, taking it for granted that his opi­nions agree with the common sense of man­kind, is therefore disgusted with those of a contrary opinion, not as differing from him, but as differing from the common standard. Hence in all disputes, we find the parties, each of them equally, appealing constantly to the common sense of mankind as the ul­timate rule or standard. Were it not for this standard, of which the conviction is u­niversal, I'cannot discover the slightest foun­dation for rancor or animosity when persons differ in essential points more than in points purely indifferent. With respect to the lat­ter, which are not supposed to be regulated [Page 360] by any standard, individuals are permitted to think for themselves with impunity. The same liberty is not indulged with respect to the former: for what reason, other than that the standard by which these are regulated, ought, as we judge, to produce an unifor­mity of opinion in all men? In a word, to this sense of a common standard must be wholly attributed the pleasure we take in those who espouse the same principles and opinions with ourselves, as well as the aver­sion we have at those who differ from us. In matters left indifferent by the standard, we find nothing of the same pleasure or pain. A bookish man, unless sway'd by convenience, relisheth not the contempla­tive more than the active part of mankind: his friends and companions are chosen in­differently out of either class. A painter consorts with a poet or musician, as readily as with those of his own art; and one is not the more agreeable to me for loving beef, as I do, nor the less agreeable for preferring mutton.

I have said, that my disgust is raised, not by differing from me, but by differing [Page 361] from what I judge to be the common standard. This point, being of importance, ought to be firmly established. Men, it is true, are prone to flatter themselves, by ta­king it for granted, that their opinions and their taste are in all respects agreeable to the common standard. But there may be ex­ceptions, and experience shows there are some. There are instances without num­ber, of persons who cling to the grosser a­musements of gaming, eating, drinking, without having any relish for more elegant pleasures, such, for example, as are afforded by the fine arts. Yet these very persons, talking the same language with the rest of mankind, pronounce in favour of the more elegant pleasures: they invariably approve those who have a more refined taste, and are ashamed of their own as low and sensual. It is in vain to think of giving a reason for this singular impartiality against self, other than the authority of the common standard. Every individual of the human species, the most groveling not excepted, hath a natural sense of the dignity of human nature*. [Page 362] Hence every man is esteemed and respected in proportion to the dignity of his character, sentiments, and actions. And from the in­stances now given we discover, that the sense of the dignity of human nature is so vigorous, as even to prevail over self-par­tiality, and to make us despise our own taste compared with the more elevated taste of others.

In our sense of a common standard and in the pleasure individuals give us by their conformity to it, a curious final cause is dis­covered. An uniformity of taste and senti­ment in matters of importance, forms an intimate connection among individuals, and is a great blessing in the social state. With respect to morals in particular, unhappy it would be for mankind did not this unifor­mity prevail: it is necessary that the ac­tions of all men be uniform with respect to right and wrong; and in order to uniformi­ty of action, it is necessary that all men think the same way in these particulars: if they differ through any irregular bias, the common sense of mankind is appealed to as the rule; and it is the province of judges, [Page 363] in matters especially of equity, to apply that rule. The same uniformity, it is yielded, is not so strictly necessary in other matters of taste: men, though connected in general as members of the same state, are, by birth, office, or occupation, sepa­rated and distinguished into different classes; and are thereby qualified for different a­musements: variety of taste, so far, is no obstruction to the general connection. But with respect to the more capital pleasures, such as are best enjoy'd in common, uni­formity of taste is necessary for two great ends, first to connect individuals the more intimately in the social life, and next to ad­vance these pleasures to their highest per­fection. With respect to the first, if instead of a common taste, every man had a taste peculiar to himself, leading him to place his happiness upon things indifferent or per­haps disagreeable to others, these capital pleasures could not be enjoy'd in common: every man would pursue his own happi­ness by flying from others; and instead of a natural tendency to union, remarkable in the human species, union would be our [Page 364] aversion: man would not be a consistent being: his interest would lead him to so­ciety, and his taste would draw him from it. The other end will be best explained by entering upon particulars. Uniformity of taste gives opportunity for sumptuous and elegant buildings, for fine gardens, and ex­tensive embellishments, which please uni­versally. Works of this nature could never have reached any degree of perfection, had every man a taste peculiar to himself: there could not be any suitable reward, either of profit or honour, to encourage men of ge­nius to labour in such works. The same uniformity of taste is equally necessary to perfect the arts of music, sculpture, and painting; and to support the expence they require after they are brought to perfection. Nature is in every particular consistent with herself. We are formed by nature to have a high relish for the fine arts, which are a great source of happiness, and extremely friendly to virtue. We are, at the same time, formed with an uniformity of taste, to furnish proper objects for this high relish: if uniformity of taste did not prevail, the [Page 365] fine arts could never have made any figure.

Thus, upon a sense common to the species, is erected a standard of taste, which without hesitation is apply'd to the taste of every individual. This standard, ascertain­ing what actions are right what wrong, what proper what improper, hath enabled moralists to establish rules for our conduct from which no person is allowed to swerve. We have the same standard for ascertaining in all the fine arts, what is beautiful or ugly, high or low, proper or improper, proportioned or disproportioned. And here, as in morals, we justly condemn every taste that swerves from what is thus ascertained by the com­mon standard.

The discovery of a rule or standard for trying the taste of individuals in the fine arts as well as in morals, is a considerable ad­vance, but completes not our journey. We have a great way yet to travel. It is made out that there is a standard: but it is not made out, by what means we shall prevent mistaking a false standard for that of na­ture. If from opinion and practice we en­deavour to ascertain the standard of nature, [Page 366] we are betray'd into endless perplexities. Viewing this matter historically, nothing ap­pears more various and more wavering than taste in the fine arts. If we judge by num­bers, the Gothic taste of architecture will be preferred before that of Greece; and the Chinese taste probably before both. It would be endless, to recount the various tastes of gardening that have prevailed in different ages, and still prevail in different countries. Despising the modest colouring of nature, women of fashion in France daub their cheeks with a red powder. Nay, the unnatural swelling in the neck, a disease peculiar to the inhabitants of the Alps, is relished by that people. But we ought not to be discouraged by such untoward instan­ces. For do we not find the like contradic­tions with respect to morals? was it not once held lawful, for a man to expose his infant children, and, when grown up, to sell them for slaves? was it not held e­qually lawful, to punish children for the crime of their parents? was not the mur­der of an enemy in cold blood an universal practice? what stronger instance can be gi­ven, [Page 367] than the abominable practice of hu­man sacrifices, not less impious than immo­ral? Such aberrations from the rules of morality, prove only, that men, originally savage and brutish, acquire not rationality or any delicacy of taste, till they be long disciplined in society. To ascertain the rules of morality, we appeal not to the common sense of savages, but of men in their more perfect state: and we make the same ap­peal, in forming the rules that ought to govern the fine arts. In neither can we safely rely on a local or transitory taste; but on what is the most universal and the most lasting among polite nations.

In this very manner, a standard for mo­rals has been established with a good deal of accuracy; and so well fitted for practice, that in the hand of able judges it is daily ap­ply'd with general satisfaction. The stand­ard of taste in the fine arts, is not yet brought to such perfection. And there is an obvious reason for its slower progress. The sense of a right and a wrong in action, is conspicuous in the breast of every individual, almost without exception. The sense of a [Page 368] right and a wrong in the fine arts, is more faint and wavering: it is by nature a tender plant, requiring much culture to bring it to maturity: in a barren soil it cannot live; and in any soil, without cultivation, it is weak and sickly. I talk chiefly with rela­tion to its more refined objects: for some objects make such lively impressions of beau­ty, grandeur, and proportion, as without exception to command the general taste. There appears to me great contrivance, in distinguishing thus the moral sense from a taste in the fine arts. The former, as a rule of conduct and as a law we ought to obey, must be clear and authoritative. The latter is not intitled to the same authority, since it contributes to our pleasure and a­musement only. Were it more strong and lively, it would usurp upon our duty, and call off the attention from matters of greater moment. Were it more clear and authori­tative, it would banish all difference of taste: a refined taste would not form a character, nor be intitled to esteem. This would put an end to rivalship, and conse­quently to all improvement.

[Page 369] But to return to our subject. However languid and cloudy the common sense of mankind may be with respect to the fine arts, it is yet the only standard in these as well as in morals. And when the matter is attentively considered, this standard will be sound less imperfect than it appears to be at first sight. In gathering the common sense of mankind upon morals, we may safely consult every individual. But with respect to the fine arts, our method must be differ­ent: a wary choice is necessary; for to collect votes indifferently, will certainly mis­lead us: those who depend for food on bodily labour, are totally void of taste; of such a taste at least as can be of use in the fine arts. This consideration bars the great­er part of mankind; and of the remaining part, many have their taste corrupted to such a degree as to unqualify them altogether for voting. The common sense of mankind must then be confined to the few that fall not under these exceptions. But as such selection seems to throw matters again into uncertainty, we must be more explicit up­on this branch of our subject.

[Page 370] Nothing tends more than voluptuousness to corrupt the whole internal frame, and to vitiate our taste, not only in the fine arts, but even in morals. It never fails, in course of time, to extinguish all the sympathetic af­fections, and to bring on a beastly selfishness which leaves nothing of man but the shape. About excluding persons of this stamp there will be no dispute. Let us next bring un­der trial, the opulent whose chief pleasure is expence. Riches, coveted by most men for the sake of superiority and to command respect, are generally bestow'd upon costly furniture, numerous attendants, a princely dwelling, every thing superb and gorgeous, to amaze and humble all beholders. Sim­plicity, elegance, propriety, and every thing natural, sweet, or amiable, are despised or neglected; for these are not at the com­mand of riches, and make no figure in the public eye. In a word, nothing is relished, but what serves to gratify pride, by an ima­gined exaltation of the possessor above those he reckons the vulgar. Such a tenor of life contracts the heart and makes every principle give way to self-interest. Benevo­lence [Page 371] and public spirit, with all their refined emotions, are little felt and less regarded. And if these be excluded, there can be no place for the faint and delicate emotions of the fine arts.

The exclusion of classes so many and va­rious, reduces within a narrow compass those who are qualified to be judges in the fine arts. Many circumstances are neces­sary to form a judge of this sort: there must be a good natural taste: this taste must be improved by education, reflection, and ex­perience: it must be preserved alive, by a regular course of life, by using the goods of fortune with moderation, and by following the dictates of improved nature which gives welcome to every rational pleasure without deviating into excess. This is the tenor of life which of all contributes the most to re­finement of taste; and the same tenor of life contributes the most to happiness in ge­neral.

If there appear much uncertainty in a standard that requires so painful and intricate a selection, we may possibly be reconciled to it by the following consideration, That, [Page 372] with respect to the fine arts, there is less difference of taste than is commonly imagi­ned. Nature hath marked all her works with indelible characters of high or low, plain or elegant, strong or weak. These, if at all perceived, are seldom misapprehend­ed by any taste; and the same marks are e­qually perceptible in works of art. A defec­tive taste is incurable; and it hurts none but the possessor, because it carries no authority to impose upon others. I know not if there be such a thing as a taste naturally bad or wrong; a taste, for example, that prefers a groveling pleasure before one that is high and elegant. Groveling pleasures are ne­ver preferred: they are only made welcome by those who know no better. Differences about objects of taste, it is true, are endless: but they generally concern trifles, or pos­sibly matters of equal rank where the pre­ference may be given either way with impu­nity. If, on any occasion, the dispute go deeper and persons differ where they ought not, a depraved taste will readily be disco­vered on one or other side, occasioned by [Page 373] imitation, custom, or corrupted manners, such as are described above.

If, after all that is said, the standard of taste be thought not yet sufficiently ascer­tained, there is still one resource in which I put great confidence. What I have in view, are the principles that constitute the sensitive part of our nature. By means of these principles, common to all men, a won­derful uniformity is preserved among the emotions and feelings of different indivi­duals; the same object making upon every person the same impression; the same in kind, at least, if not in degree. There have been aberrations, as above observed, from these principles; but soon or late they al­ways prevail, by restoring the wanderers to the right track. The uniformity of taste here accounted for, is the very thing that in other words is termed the common sense of mankind. And this discovery leads us to means for ascertaining the common sense of mankind or the standard of taste, more un­erringly than the selection above insisted on. Every doubt with relation to this standard, occasioned by the practice of different nations [Page 374] and different times, may be cleared by ap­plying to the principles that ought to govern the taste of every individual. In a word, a thorough acquaintance with these principles will enable us to form the standard of taste; and to lay a foundation for this valuable branch of knowledge, is the declared purpose of the present undertaking.

APPENDIX. Terms defined or explained.

1. CONSIDERING the things I am con­scious of, some are internal or within my mind, some external or without. Passion, thinking, volition, are internal objects. Objects of sight, of hear­ing, of smell, of touch, of taste, are exter­nal.

2. The faculty by which I discover an internal object, is termed an internal sense: the faculty by which I discover an external object, is termed an external sense. This distinction among the senses is made with reference to their objects merely; for the senses, external and internal, are equally powers or faculties of the mind.

3. But as self is an object, and the only one that cannot be termed either external [Page 376] or internal, the faculty by which I am con­scious of myself, must be distinguished from both the internal and external senses.

4. By sight we perceive the qualities of figure, colour, motion, &c.: by the ear we perceive the qualities high, low, loud, soft: by touch we perceive rough, smooth, hot, cold, &c.: by taste we perceive sweet, sour, bitter, &c.: by smell we perceive fragrant, stinking, &c. Qualities, from our very conception of them, are not capa­ble of an independent existence; but must belong to something of which they are the qualities. A thing with respect to its quali­ties is termed a subject, or substratum; be­cause its qualities rest, as it were, upon it, or are founded upon it. The subject or substratum of visible qualities, is termed substance, of audible qualities, sound; of tangible qualities, body. In like manner, taste is the substratum of qualities perceived by our sense of tasting; and smell is the substratum of qualities perceived by our sense of smelling.

5. Substance and sound are perceived existing in a certain place; often at a consi­derable [Page 377] distance from the organ. But smell, touch, and taste, are perceived at the organs of sense.

6. Objects of internal sense are conceived to be attributes: deliberation, reasoning, resolution, willing, consenting, are internal actions: passions and emotions are internal agitations. With regard to the former, I am conscious of being active; with regard to the latter, I am conscious of being pas­sive.

7. Again, we are conscious of internal action as in the head; of passions and emo­tions as in the heart.

8. Many actions may be exerted inter­nally and many effects produced, of which we are not conscious. When we investi­gate the ultimate cause of animal motions, it is the most probable opinion, that they proceed from some internal power: and if so, we are, in this particular, unconscious of our own operations. But consciousness be­ing imply'd in the very conception of deli­berating, reasoning, resolving, willing, con­senting, these operations cannot go on with­out our knowledge. The same is the case [Page 378] of passions and emotions; for no internal a­gitation is denominated a passion or emo­tion, but what we are conscious of.

9. The mind is not always in the same state: it is at times chearful, melancholy, severe, peevish. These different states may not improperly be denominated tones. An object, by making an impression, produ­ceth an emotion or passion, which again gives the mind a certain tone suited to it.

10. Perception and sensation are com­monly reckoned synonymous terms, signi­fying the consciousness we have of objects; but, in accurate language, they are distin­guished. The consciousness we have of ex­ternal objects, is termed perception. Thus we are said to perceive a certain animal, a certain colour, sound, taste, smell, &c. The consciousness we have of pleasure or pain arising from external objects, is termed sensation. Thus we have a sensation of cold, of heat, of the pain of a wound, of the pleasure of a landscape, of music, of beau­ty, of propriety, of behaviour, &c. The consciousness we have of internal action, such as deliberation, resolution, choice, is [Page 379] never termed either a perception or a sen­sation.

11. Conception ought to be distinguished from perception. External things and their attributes are objects of perception: relations among things are objects of conception. I see two men, James and John: the conscious­ness I have of them is a perception: but the consciousness I have of their relation as father and son, is termed a conception. Again, per­ception relates to objects really existing: con­ception to fictitious objects, or to those framed by the imagination.

12. Feeling, beside denoting one of the external senses, has two different significa­tions. Of these the most common includes not only sensation, but also that branch of consciousness which relates to passions and emotions: it is proper to say, I have a feel­ing of cold, of heat, or of pain; and it is not less proper to say, I have a feeling of love, of hatred, of anger, or of any other passion. But it is not applied to internal action: for it is not proper to say, that a man feels him­self deliberating or resolving. In a sense less common, feeling is put for the thing that is felt; and in this sense it is a general [Page 380] term for every one of our passions and emo­tions.

13. That we cannot perceive an external object till an impression be made upon our body, is probable from reason, and is ascer­tained by experience. But it is not neces­sary that we be made sensible of the im­pression. It is true, that in touching, ta­sting, and smelling, we feel the impression made at the organ of sense: but in seeing and hearing, we feel no impression. We know indeed by experience, that before we perceive a visible object, its image is spread upon the retina tunica; and that before we perceive a sound, an impression is made up­on the drum of the ear: and yet here, we are not conscious either of the organic i­mage or the organic impression: nor are we conscious of any other operation preparatory to the act of perception. All we can say, is, that we see that river, or hear that trum­pet*.

[Page 381] 14. Objects once perceived may be recall­ed to the mind by the power of memory. When I recall an object in this manner, it appears to me the same as in the origi­nal survey, only more faint and obscure. For example, I saw yesterday a spreading oak growing on the brink of a river. I en­deavour to recall it to my mind. How is this operation performed? Do I endeavour to form in my mind a picture of it or repre­sentative image? Not so. I transport my­self ideally to the place where I saw the tree yesterday; upon which I have a perception of the tree and river, similar in all respects to the perception I had of it when I viewed it with my eyes, only more obscure. And in this recollection, I am not conscious of a picture or representative image, more than in the original survey: the perception is of [Page 382] the tree itself, as at first. I confirm this by another experiment. After attentively sur­veying a fine statue, I close my eyes. What follows? The same object continues, with­out any difference but that it is less distinct than formerly. This indistinct secondary perception of an object, is termed an idea. And therefore the precise and accurate defi­nition of an idea, in contradistinction to an original perception, is, ‘"That perception or consciousness of a real object, which a person has by exercising the power of memory."’ Every thing one is conscious of, whether internal or external, passions, emotions, thinking, resolving, willing, heat, cold, &c. as well as external objects, may be recalled as above by the power of memory*.

[Page 383] 15. The original perceptions of external objects, are either simple or complex. A sound may be so simple as not to be resol­vable into parts: so may a taste and a smell. A perception of touch, is generally com­pounded of the more simple perceptions of hardness or softness, joined with smoothness or roughness, heat or cold, &c. But of all the perceptions of external sense, that of a visible object is the most complex; be­cause the eye takes in more particulars than any other organ. A tree is composed of its trunk, branches, leaves: it has colour, fi­gure, size: every one of these separately produceth a perception in the mind of the spectator, which are all combined into the complex perception of the tree.

16. The original perception of an object of sight, is more complete, lively, and dis­tinct, than that of any other external sense: and for that reason, an idea or secondary [Page 384] perception of a visible object, is more dis­tinct and lively than that of any other object. A fine passage in music, may, for a mo­ment, be recalled to the mind with tolera­ble accuracy: but the idea of any other ob­ject, and also of sound after the shortest in­terval, is extremely obscure.

17. As the range of an individual is com­monly within narrow bounds of space, op­portunities seldom offer of an enlarged ac­quaintance with external objects. Original perceptions therefore, and their correspond­ing ideas, are a provision too scanty for the purposes of life. Language is an admirable contrivance for supplying this deficiency; for by language, the original perceptions of each individual may be communicated to all; and the same may be done by painting and other imitative arts. It is natural to suppose, that the most lively ideas are the most susceptible of being communicated to others. This holds more especially when language is the vehicle of communication; for language hitherto has not arrived at any greater perfection than to express clear and lively ideas. Hence it is, that poets and o­rators, [Page 385] who are extremely successful in de­scribing objects of sight, find objects of the other senses too faint and obscure for lan­guage. An idea thus acquired of an object at second hand, ought to be distinguished from an idea of memory; though their re­semblance has occasioned the same term to be apply'd to both. This is to be regretted; for when knowledge is to be communicated by language, ambiguity in the signification of words is a great obstruction to accuracy of conception. Thus nature hath furnished the means of multiplying ideas without end, and of providing every individual with a sufficient stock to answer, not only the ne­cessities, but even the elegancies of life.

18. Further, man is endued with a sort of creative power: he can fabricate ima­ges of things that have no existence. The materials employ'd in this opera­tion, are ideas of sight, which may be taken to pieces and combined into new forms at pleasure: their complexity and vivacity make them fit materials. But a man has no such power over any of his o­ther ideas, whether of the external or in­ternal [Page 386] senses: he cannot, after the utmost effort, combine these into new forms: his ideas of such objects are too obscure for this operation. An image thus fabricated cannot be called a secondary perception, not being derived from an original perception: the poverty of language however, as in the case immediately above mentioned, has occasion­ed the same term idea to be apply'd to all. This singular power of fabricating images independent of real objects, is distinguished by the name imagination.

19. As ideas are the chief materials em­ploy'd in thinking, reasoning, and reflect­ing, it is of consequence that their nature and differences be understood. It appears now, that ideas may be distinguished into three kinds; first, Ideas or secondary per­ceptions, properly termed ideas of memory; second, Ideas communicated by language or other signs; and, third, Ideas of imagi­nation. These ideas differ from each other in many respects; but the chief foundation of the distinction is the difference of their causes. The first kind are derived from real existences that have been objects of our [Page 387] senses: language is the cause of the second, or any other sign that has the same power with language; and a man's imagination is to himself the cause of the third. It is scarce necessary to add, that an idea, origi­nally of imagination, being convey'd to others by language or any other vehicle, becomes in the mind of those to whom it is convey'd an idea of the second kind; and again, that an idea of this kind, being afterward re­called to the mind, becomes in that circum­stance an idea of memory.

20. Human nature is not so constituted, as that its objects are perceived with indif­ferency: these, with very few exceptions, raise in us either pleasant or painful emo­tions. External objects, at the same time, appear in themselves agreeable or disagree­able; but with some difference betwixt those which produce organic impressions, and those which affect us from a distance. When we touch a soft and smooth body, we have a pleasant feeling as at the place of contact; and this feeling we distinguish not, at least not accurately, from the agreeable­ness of the body itself. The same holds [Page 388] in general with regard to all the organic impressions. It is otherwise in hearing and seeing. A sound is perceived as in itself a­greeable; and, at the same time, raises in the hearer a pleasant emotion: an object of sight appears in itself agreeable; and, at the same time, raises in the seer a pleasant emotion. These are accurately distinguish­ed. The pleasant emotion is felt as within the mind: the agreeableness of the object is placed upon the object, and is perceived as one of its qualities or properties. The a­greeable appearance of an object of sight, is termed beauty; and the disagreeable appear­ance of such an object is termed ugliness.

21. But though beauty and ugliness, in their proper and genuine signification, are confined to objects of sight; yet in a more lax and figurative signification, they are ap­ply'd to objects of the other senses. They are sometimes apply'd even to abstract terms; for it is not unusual to say, a beauti­ful theorem, a beautiful constitution of govern­ment. But I am inclined to think, that we are led to use such expression by conceiving [Page 389] the thing as delineated upon paper, and as in some sort an object of sight.

22. A line composed by a precise rule, is perceived and said to be regular. A straight line, a parabola, a hyperbola, the circumfe­rence of a circle, and of an ellipse, are all of them regular lines. A figure composed by a precise rule, is perceived and said to be regular. Thus a circle, a square, a hexa­gon, an equilateral triangle, are regular fi­gures, being composed by a rule that deter­mines the form of each. When the form of a line or of a figure is ascertained by a rule that leaves nothing arbitrary, the line and the figure are said to be perfectly regu­lar: this is the case of the figures now men­tioned; and it is the case of a straight line and of the circumference of a circle. A fi­gure and a line are not perfectly regular where any part or circumstance is left arbi­trary. A parallelogram and a rhomb are less regular than a square: the parallelogram is subjected to no rule as to the length of sides, other than that the opposite sides be equal: the rhomb is subjected to no rule as to its angles, other than that the opposite angles be [Page 390] equal. For the same reason, the circumfe­rence of an ellipse, the form of which is susceptible of much variety, is less regular than that of a circle.

23. Regularity, properly speaking, be­longs, like beauty, to objects of sight: like beauty, it is also apply'd figuratively to other objects. Thus we say, a regular govern­ment, a regular composition of music, and, re­gular discipline.

24. When two figures are composed of similar parts, they are said to be uniform. Perfect uniformity is where the constituent parts of two figures are precisely similar to each other. Thus two cubes of the same dimensions are perfectly uniform in all their parts. An imperfect uniformity is, where the parts mutually correspond, but without being precisely similar. The uniformity is imperfect betwixt two squares or cubes of unequal dimensions; and still more so be­twixt a square and a parallelogram.

25. Uniformity is also applicable to the constituent parts of the same figure. The constituent parts of a square are perfectly uniform: its sides are equal and its angles [Page 391] are equal. Wherein then differs regularity from uniformity? for a figure composed of similar or uniform parts must undoubtedly be regular. Regularity is predicated of a fi­gure considered as a whole composed of re­sembling or uniform parts: uniformity a­gain is predicated of these parts as related to each other by resemblance. We say, a square is a regular, not an uniform figure: but with respect to the constituent parts of a square, we say not that they are regular, but that they are uniform.

26. In things destined for the same use, as legs, arms, eyes, windows, spoons, we expect uniformity. Proportion ought to govern parts intended for different uses. We require a certain proportion betwixt a leg and an arm; in the base, the shaft, the capital, of a pillar; and in the length, the breadth, the height, of a room. Some pro­portion is also required in different things intimately connected, as betwixt a dwell­ing-house, the garden, and the stables. But we require no proportion among things slightly connected, as betwixt the table a man writes on and the dog that follows him. [Page 392] Proportion and uniformity never coincide: things perfectly similar are uniform; but proportion is never applied to them: the four sides and angles of a square are equal and perfectly uniform; but we say not that they are proportional. Thus, proportion always implies inequality or difference; but then it implies it to a certain degree only: the most agreeable proportion resembles a ma­ximum in mathematics; a greater or less in­equality or difference is less agreeable.

27. Order regards various particulars. First, in tracing or surveying objects, we are directed by a sense of order: we con­ceive it to be more orderly, that we should pass from a principle to its accessories and from a whole to its parts, than in the contrary direction. Next, with respect to the position of things, a sense of order di­rects us to place together things intimately connected. Thirdly, in placing things that have no natural connection, that order appears the most perfect, where the parti­culars are made to bear the strongest relation to each other that position can give them. Thus parallelism is the strongest relation [Page 393] that position can bestow upon straight lines. If they be so placed as by production to in­tersect each other, the relation is less per­fect. A large body in the middle and two equal bodies of less size, one on each side, is an order that produces the strongest relation the bodies are susceptible of by position. The relation betwixt the two equal bodies would be stronger by juxtaposition; but they would not both have the same relation to the third.

28. The beauty or agreeableness of an object, as it enters into the original percep­tion, enters also into the secondary percep­tion or idea. An idea of imagination is also agreeable; though in a lower degree than an idea of memory, where the objects are of the same kind. But this defect in the ideas of imagination is abundantly supply'd by their greatness and variety. For the i­magination acting without control, can fa­bricate ideas of finer visible objects, of more noble and heroic actions, of greater wic­kedness, of more surprising events, than ever in fact existed. And by communicating these ideas in words, painting, sculpture, [Page 394] &c. the influence of the imagination is not less extensive than great.

29. In the nature of every man, there is somewhat original, that serves to distinguish him from others, that tends to form a cha­racter, and, with the concurrence of ex­ternal accidents, to make him meek or fie­ry, candid or deceitful, resolute or timorous, chearful or morose. This original bent is termed disposition. Which must be distin­guished from a principle: no original bent obtains the latter appellation, but what be­longs to the whole species. A principle makes part of the common nature of man: a disposition makes part of the nature of this or that man. A propensity compre­hends both; for it signifies indifferently ei­ther a principle or a disposition.

30. Affection, signifying a settled bent of mind toward a particular being or thing, oc­cupies a middle place betwixt propensity on the one hand, and passion on the other. A propensity being original, must exist before any opportunity be offered to exert it: af­fection can never be original; because, ha­ving a special relation to a particular object, [Page 395] it cannot exist till the object be presented. Again, passion depends on the presence of the object, in idea at least, if not in reality: when the idea vanishes, the passion vanishes with it. Affection, on the contrary, once settled on a person, is a lasting connection; and, like other connections, subsists even when we do not think of it. A familiar example will clear the whole. There may be in the mind a propensity to gratitude, which, through want of an object, happens never to be exerted, and which therefore is never discovered even by the person who has it. Another who has the same propensity, meets with a kindly office that makes him grateful to his benefactor: an intimate con­nection is formed betwixt them, termed affection; which, like other connections, has a permanent existence, though not always in view. The affection, for the most part, lies dormant, till an opportunity offer of ex­erting it: in this circumstance, it is convert­ed into the passion of gratitude; and the opportunity is greedily seized for testifying gratitude in the most complete manner.

31. Aversion, I think, must be opposed [Page 396] to affection, and not to desire, as it common­ly is We have an affection for one person; we have an aversion to another: the former disposes us to do good to its object, the lat­ter to do ill.

32. What is a sentiment? It is not a perception; for a perception signifies our consciousness of external objects. It is not consciousness of an internal action; such as thinking, suspending thought, inclining, resolving, willing, &c. Neither is it a con­ception of relation amongst objects or of their differences: a conception of this kind, is termed opinion. The term sentiment is appropriated to those thoughts that are sug­gested by a passion or emotion.

33. Attention is that state of mind which prepares a man to receive impressions. Ac­cording to the degree of attention, objects make a stronger or weaker impression*. [Page 397] In an indolent state, or in a reverie, objects make but a slight impression; far from what they make when they command our atten­tion. In a train of perceptions, no single object makes such a figure as it would do single and apart: for when the attention is divided among many objects, no single ob­ject is intitled to a large share. Hence the stillness of night contributes to terror, there being nothing to divert the attention.

Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent.
Aeneid. 2.

Silence and solitude are ev'ry where!
Through all the gloomy ways and iron doors
That hither lead, nor human face nor voice
Is seen or heard A dreadful din was wont
To grate the sense, when enter'd here, from groans
And howls of slaves condemn'd, from clink of chains,
And crash of rusty bars and creeking hinges:
And ever and anon the sight was dash'd
With frightful faces and the meagre looks
Of grim and ghastly executioners.
[Page 398] Yet more this stillness terrifies my soul
Than did that scene of complicated horrors.
Mourning Bride, act 5. sc. 8.

And hence it is, that an object seen at the termination of a confined view, is more a­greeable than when seen in a group with the surrounding objects.

The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
When neither is attended; and, I think,
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When ev'ry goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
Merchant of Venice.

34. In matters of slight importance, at­tention, in a great measure, is directed by will; and for that reason, it is our own fault if trifling objects make any deep impression. Had we power equally to with-hold our at­tention from matters of importance, we might be proof against any deep impression. But our power fails us here: an interesting object seizes and fixes the attention beyond the possibility of control; and while our at­tention is thus forcibly attached by one ob­ject, [Page 399] others may solicit for admittance; but in vain, for they will not be regarded. Thus a small misfortune is scarce felt in presence of a greater:

Thou think'st 'tis much, that this conten­tious storm
Invades us to the skin; so 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'd'st shun a bear;
But if thy flight lay tow'rd the roaring sea,
Thou'd'st meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind's free,
The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else,
Save what beats there.
King Lear, act 3. sc. 5.

35. Genus, species, modification, are terms invented to distinguish beings from each o­ther. Individuals are distinguished by their qualities: a large class of individuals enjoy­ing qualities in common, is termed a genus: a subdivision of such class is termed a spe­cies. Again, that circumstance which dis­tinguisheth one genus, one species, or e­ven one individual, from another, is term­ed [Page 400] a modification: the same particular that is termed a property or quality when consi­dered as belonging to an individual or a class of individuals, is termed a modification when considered as distinguishing the individual or the class from another. A black skin and soft curled hair, are properties of a ne­gro: the same circumstances considered as marks that distinguish a negro from a man of a different species, are denominated mo­difications.

36. Objects of sight, being complex, are distinguishable into the several particulars that enter into the composition: these ob­jects are all of them coloured; and they all have length, breadth, and thickness. When I behold a spreading oak, I distinguish in this object, size, figure, colour, and some­times motion: viewing a flowing river, I distinguish colour, figure, and constant mo­tion: a dye has colour, black spots, six plain surfaces, all equal and uniform. The objects of touch, have all of them extension. Some of them are felt rough, some smooth: some of them are hard, some soft. With respect to the other senses, some of their ob­jects [Page 401] are simple, some complex: a sound, a taste, a smell, may be so simple as not to be distinguishable into any parts: others are perceived to be compounded of different sounds, different tastes, and different smells.

37. The eye at one look can take in a number of objects, as of trees in a field, or men in a crowd: as these objects are distinct from each other, each having a separate and independent existence, they are distin­guishable in the mind as well as in reality; and there is nothing more easy, than to abs­tract from some and to confine our con­templation to others. A large oak with its spreading branches, fixes our attention upon itself, and abstracts us from the shrubs that surround it. In the same manner, with respect to compounded sounds, tastes, or smells, we can fix our thoughts upon any one of the component parts, abstracting our attention from the rest. But the power of abstraction is not confined to objects that are separable in reality as well as mentally: it also takes place where there can be no real separation. The size, the figure, the colour, of a tree, are inseparably connected, [Page 402] and cannot exist independent of each other: the same of length, breadth, and thickness: and yet we can mentally confine our ob­servations to one of these, neglecting or abs­tracting from the rest. Here abstraction takes place where there cannot be a real separation.

38. This power of abstraction is of great utility. A carpenter considers a log of wood, with regard to hardness, firmness, colour, and texture: a philosopher, neglect­ting these properties, makes the log under­go a chymical analysis; and examines its taste, its smell, and its component princi­ples: the geometrician confines his reason­ing to the figure, the length, breadth, and thickness. In general, every artist, abstract­ing from all other properties, confines his observations to those which have a more im­mediate connection with his profession.

39. Hence clearly appears the meaning of an abstract term, and abstract idea. If in viewing an object, we can abstract from some of its parts or properties, and attach ourselves to others; there must be the same facility, when we recall this object to the [Page 403] mind in idea. This leads directly to the definition of an abstract idea, viz. ‘"A par­tial view of a complex object, limited to one or more of the component parts or properties, laying aside or abstracting from others."’ A word that denotes an abstract idea, is called an abstract term.

40. The power of abstraction is bestowed upon man, for the purposes solely of rea­soning. It tends greatly to the facility as well as clearness of any process of reasoning, that, withdrawing from every other circum­stance, we can confine our attention to the single property we desire to investigate.

41. Abstract ideas, may, I think, be distinguished into three different kinds, all equally subservient to the reasoning faculty. Individuals appear to have no end; and did we not possess the faculty of distributing them into classes, the mind would be lost in an endless variety, and no progress be made in knowledge. It is by the faculty of abstraction that we distribute beings into genera and species: finding a number of individuals connected by certain qualities common to all, we give a name to these [Page 404] individuals considered as thus connected; which name, by gathering them together into one class, serves in a curt manner to express the whole of these individuals as distinct from others. Thus the word ani­mal serves to denote every being which hath self-motion; and the words man, horse, lion, &c. answer similar purposes. This is the first and most common sort of abstrac­tion; and it is of the most extensive use, by enabling us to comprehend in our rea­soning whole kinds and sorts, instead of in­dividuals without end. The next sort of abstract ideas and terms comprehends a number of individual objects considered as connected by some occasional relation. A great number of persons collected together in one place, without any other relation but merely that of contiguity, are deno­minated a crowd: in forming this term, we abstract from sex, from age, from condition, from dress, &c. A number of persons connected by being subject­ed to the same laws and to the same go­vernment, are termed a nation; and a number of men subjected to the same mili­tary [Page 405] command, are termed an army. A third sort of abstraction is, where a single property or part, which may be common to many individuals, is selected to be the subject of our contemplation; for example, whiteness, heat, beauty, length, roundness, head, arm.

42. Abstract terms are a happy invention: it is by their means chiefly, that the particu­lars which we make the subject of our rea­soning, are brought into close union, and se­parated from all others however naturally connected. Without the aid of such terms, the mind could never be kept steady to its proper subject, but would perpetually be in hazard of assuming foreign circumstances or neglecting what are essential. In a word, a general term denotes in a curt man­ner certain objects occasionally combined. We can, without the aid of language, com­pare real objects by intuition, when these objects are present; and, when absent, we can compare them by means of the ideas we have of them: but when we advance farther, and attempt to make inferences, and draw conclusions, we always employ [Page 406] abstract terms, even in thinking. It would be as difficult to reason without them, as to perform operations in al­gebra without signs: for there is scarce any reasoning without some degree of abs­traction; and we cannot abstract to pur­pose without making use of general terms. Hence it follows, that without language man would scarce be a rational being.

43. The same thing, in different respects, has different names. With respect to cer­tain qualities, it is termed a substance; with respect to other qualities, a body; and with respect to qualities of all sorts, a subject: it is termed a passive subject with respect to an action exerted upon it; an object with re­spect to a percipient; a cause with respect to the effect it produces; and an effect with respect to its cause.


[The volumes are denoted by numeral letters, the pages by figures.]

  • ABstract idea) defined iii. 402. Abstract ideas of different kinds iii. 403.
  • Abstraction) power of iii. 401. Its use iii. 402. 403.
  • Abstract terms) ought to be avoided in poetry i. 294. iii. 198. Cannot be compared but by being per­sonified iii. 6. Personified iii. 65. Defined iii. 402. The use of abstract terms iii. 405.
  • Accent) defined ii. 361. The musical accents that are necessary in an hexameter line ii. 376. A low word must not be accented ii. 405. Rules for ac­centing English heroic verse ii. 415. How far af­fected by the pause ii. 422. &c. Accent and pause have a mutual influence ii. 428.
  • Action) what feelings are raised by human actions i. 48. 49. 276. We are impelled to action by de­sire i. 55. Some actions are ultimate, some are means leading to an end i. 57. Actions great and elevated, low and groveling i. 276. Emotions oc­casioned by propriety of action ii. 13. Occasioned by impropriety of action ii. 14. Human actions produce a great variety of emotions ii. 28. Hu­man actions considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 35. We are conscious of internal ac­tion [Page] as in the head iii. 377. Internal action may exist without our being conscious of it iii. 377.
  • Actor) bombast action i. 308. An actor ought to feel the passion he represents ii. 153.
  • Admiration) defined i. 320.
  • Affectation) defined ii. 11.
  • Affection) to children accounted for i. 82. To blood­relations accounted for i. 83. To property accounted for i. 84. Affection to children endures longer than any other affection i. 150. Opinion and be­lief influenced by affection i. 199. Affection defi­ned ii. 87. iii. 394.
  • Agamemnon) of Seneca censured ii. 193.
  • Agreeable emotions and passions i. 127. &c.
  • Alcestes) of Euripides censured iii. 286. 289.
  • Alexandre of Racine) censured ii. 177.
  • Allegory iii. 108. &c. More difficult in painting than in poetry iii. 129. In an historical poem iii. 248.
  • All for Love) of Dryden censured ii. 202.
  • Ambiguity) occasioned by a wrong arrangement ii. 297.
  • Amynta) of Tasso censured ii. 167.
  • Amor patriae) accounted for i. 88.
  • Amphibrachys ii. 460.
  • Amphimacer ii. 460.
  • Analytic) and synthetic methods of reasoning compa­red i. 31.
  • Anapaestus ii. 460.
  • Anger) explained i. 95. &c. Sometimes exerted a­gainst the innocent i. 191. And even against things inanimate i. 191. Not infectious i. 221. Has no dignity in it ii. 33.
  • [Page] Animals) distributed by nature into classes iii. 356.
  • Antibacchius ii. 460.
  • Anticlimax ii. 345.
  • Antispastus ii. 461.
  • Antithesis ii. 73. 262. Verbal antithesis ii. 268.
  • Apostrophe iii. 87. &c.
  • Appearance) in poetry, things ought to be described as they appear, not as they are in reality iii. 172.
  • Appetite) defined i. 59. Appetites of hunger, thirst, animal love, arise without an object i. 73. Appe­tite for fame or esteem i. 237.
  • Architecture ch. 24. iii. 294. Grandeur of manner in architecture i. 294. The situation of a great house ought to be lofty ii. 7. A playhouse or a music-room susceptible of much ornament ii. 9. What emotions can be raised by architecture iii. 297. Its emotions compared with those of gar­dening iii. 297. Every building ought to have an expression suited to its destination iii. 298. 338. Simplicity ought to be the governing taste iii. 300. Regularity ought to be studied iii. 301. Exter­nal form of dwelling-houses iii. 324. Divisions within iii. 324. 340. A palace ought to be regular, but in a small house convenience ought chiefly to be studied iii. 326. The form of a dwelling-house ought to be suited to the climate iii. 327. Pro­priety ought to be studied in architecture iii. 338. Governed by principles which produce opposite ef­fects iii. 342. Different ornaments employed by it iii. 342. Allegorical or emblematic ornaments iii. 347. Architecture inspires a taste for neatness and regularity iii. 350.
  • [Page] Architrave iii. 344.
  • Ariosto) censured iii. 264.
  • Aristaeus) the episode of Aristaeus in the Georgies censured ii. 457.
  • Army) defined iii. 405.
  • Arrangement) the best arrangement of words is to place them as much as possible in an increasing se­ries ii. 251.
  • Articulate sounds) how far agreeable to the ear ii. 240.
  • Artificial mount iii. 313.
  • Ascent) pleasant, but descent not painful i. 273.
  • Athalie) of Racine censured ii. 193.
  • Attention) defined iii. 396. Impression which objects make depends on the degree of attention iii. 396. Attention not always voluntary iii. 398.
  • Attractive emotions ii. 133.
  • Attractive object i. 226.
  • Attributes) transferred from one subject to another iii. 100. &c.
  • Avarice) defined i. 52.
  • Avenue) to a house iii. 312.
  • Aversion) defined ii. 87. iii. 395.
  • Bacchius ii. 460.
  • Barren scene) defined iii. 266.
  • Base) of a column iii. 346.
  • Basso-relievo iii. 347.
  • Batrachomuomachia) censured ii. 42.
  • Beauty, ch. 3. i. 241. Intrinsic and relative i. 244. Beauty of simplicity i. 247. of figure i. 248. of the circle i. 251. of the square i. 251. of a regu­lar [Page] polygon i. 252. of a parallelogram i. 252. of an equilateral triangle i. 253. Beauty, whether a primary or secondary quality of objects i. 260. Dis­tinguished from congruity ii. 8. Great beauty sel­dom produces a constant lover ii. 101. Beauty proper and figurative iii. 388.
  • Belief) fortified by a lively narrative or a good histo­rical painting i. 122. influenced by passion i. 196. iii. 55. 89. influenced by propensity i. 199. in­fluenced by affection i. 199.
  • Benevolence) joins with self-love to make us happy i. 228. inspired by gardening iii. 320.
  • Blank verse ii. 381. 435. Its aptitude for inversion ii. 438. Its melody ii. 439. &c.
  • Body) defined iii. 406.
  • Boileau) censured iii. 242.
  • Bombast i. 303. Bombast in action i. 308.
  • Burlesk) machinery does well in a burlesk poem i. 125.
  • Burlesk distinguished into two kinds ii. 41.
  • Cadence ii. 348. 362.
  • Capital) of a column iii. 346.
  • Careless Husband) its double plot well contrived iii. 253.
  • Cascade i. 314.
  • Cause) resembling causes may produce effects that have no resemblance: and causes that have no re­semblance may produce resembling effects ii. 337. &c. Cause defined iii. 406.
  • Chance) the mind revolts against misfortunes that hap­pen by chance iii. 232.
  • Character) to draw a character is the master-piece of description iii. 182.
  • [Page] Characteristics) of Shaftesbury criticised ii. 10. Note.
  • Children) love to them accounted for i. 82.
  • Chinese gardens iii. 316. Wonder and surprise studied in them iii. 319.
  • Choreus ii. 459.
  • Choriambus ii. 461.
  • Chorus) an essential part of the Grecian tragedy iii. 270.
  • Church) what ought to be its form and situation iii. 338.
  • Cicero) censured ii. 329. 350.
  • Cid) of Corneille censured ii. 166. 198.
  • Cinna) of Corneille censured ii. 11. 161. 194.
  • Circle) its beauty i. 251.
  • Circumstances) in a period, how they ought to be ar­ranged ii. 314. &c.
  • Class) all living creatures distributed into classes iii. 356.
  • Climax) in sense i. 281. ii. 322. in sound ii. 252.
  • Coephores) of Eschylus censured ii. 114.
  • Coexistent) emotions and passions i. 151. &c.
  • Colonnade) where proper iii. 327.
  • Colour) a secondary quality i. 259.
  • Columns) every column ought to have a base i. 218. The base ought to be square i. 218. 219. Co­lumns admit different proportions iii. 332. What e­motions they raise iii. 339. Column more beautiful than a pilaster iii. 344. Its form iii. 346.
  • Comedy) double plot in a comedy iii. 253.
  • Commencement) the commencement of a work ought to be modest and simple iii. 171.
  • Common nature) in every species of animals iii. 356. [Page] We have a conviction that this common nature is perfect or right iii. 357. Also that it is invariable iii. 357.
  • Common senseiii. 359. 373.
  • Comparison i. 346. &c. Ch. 19. iii. 3. Comparisons that resolve into a play of words iii. 42.
  • Complex emotion i. 152. 154. 155.
  • Complex perception iii. 383.
  • Complexion) white suits with a pale complexion, black with a dark complexion, and scarlet with one that is over-flushed i. 369.
  • Conception) defined iii. 379.
  • Concord) or harmony in objects of sight i. 156.
  • Concordant sounds) defined i. 151.
  • Congreve) censured iii. 258.
  • Congruity and propriety, ch. 10. ii. 3. Congruity dis­tinguished from beauty ii. 8. distinguished from propriety ii. 8. Congruity coincides with propor­tion with respect to quantity ii. 19.
  • Connection) necessary in all compositions i. 34.
  • Conquest of Granada) of Dryden censured ii. 201.
  • Consonants ii. 239.
  • Constancy) great beauty the cause generally of incon­stancy ii. 101.
  • Construction) of language explained ii. 285.
  • Contempt) raised by improper action i. 340.
  • Contrast i. 345. &c. Its effect in gardening iii. 317.
  • Conviction) intuitive. See Intuitive conviction.
  • Copulative) to drop the copulatives enlivens the ex­pression ii. 281. &c.
  • Coriolanus) of Shakespear censured ii. 200.
  • Corneille) censured ii. 159. 216.
  • [Page] Corporeal pleasure i. 1. 2. low and sometimes mean ii. 32.
  • Couplet ii. 381.
  • Courage) of greater dignity than justice. Why? ii. 31.
  • Creticus ii. 460.
  • Criminal) the hour of execution seems to him to ap­proach with a swift pace i. 202.
  • Criticism) its advantages i. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. its terms not accurately defined ii. 139.
  • Crowd) defined iii. 404.
  • Curiosity i. 320. 345. &c.
  • Custom and habit, ch. 14. ii. 81. Custom distinguished from habit ii. 82.
  • Dactyle ii. 364. &c. 460.
  • Declensions) explained ii. 288. 289.
  • Delicacy) of taste i. 136.
  • Derision ii. 16.
  • Descent) not painful i. 273.
  • Description) it animates a description to represent things past as present i. 118. The rules which ought to govern it iii. 169. &c. A lively description is a­greeable, though the subject described be disagree­able iii. 208. Description cannot reach any object but those of sight iii. 385.
  • Descriptive personification iii. 64.
  • Descriptive tragedy ii. 155.
  • Desire) defined i. 55. It impels us to action i. 55. It determines the will i. 222. Desire in a criminal of self-punishment i. 232. Desire tends the most to happiness when moderate i. 263.
  • [Page] Dialogue) dialogue-writing requires great genius ii. 151. 152. 153. In dialogue every expression ought to be suited to the character of the speaker iii. 196. Rules for its composition iii. 256.
  • Dignity and meanness, ch. 11. ii. 27. Dignity of hu­man nature iii. 361.
  • Diiambus ii. 461.
  • Disagreeable emotions and passions i. 127. &c.
  • Discordant sounds) defined i. 152.
  • Dispondeus ii. 461.
  • Disposition) defined iii. 394.
  • Dissimilar emotions i. 153. Their effects when co-ex­istent i. 159. iii. 303. 337.
  • Dissimilar passions) their effects i. 171.
  • Dissocial passions i. 62. Dissocial passions all painful i. 131. and also disagreeable i. 134.
  • Ditrochaeus ii. 461.
  • Door) its proportion iii. 322.
  • Double action) in an epic poem iii. 264.
  • Double-dealer) of Congreve censured ii. 193. iii. 266.
  • Double plot) in a dramatic composition iii. 251.
  • Drama) ancient and modern drama compared iii. 280.
  • Dramatic poetry iii. 218. &c.
  • Drapery ought to hang loose i. 219.
  • Dress) rules about dress ii. 10. iii. 300.
  • Dryden) censured iii. 128. 257. 267.
  • Duties) moral duties of two kinds, respecting our­selves and respecting others ii. 20. Foundation of duties that respect ourselves ii. 21. Of those that re­spect others ii. 21.
  • Effects) resembling effects may be produced by causes [Page] that have no resemblance ii. 337. &c. Effect de­fined iii. 406.
  • Electra) of Sophocles censured ii. 115.
  • Elevation i. 264. &c. real and figurative intimately connected i. 279. Figurative elevation distinguished from figurative grandeur iii. 21. 22.
  • Emotion) no pleasure of external sense except of see­ing and hearing is termed an emotion or passion i. 42. Emotions defined i. 46. 47. and their causes assigned i. 47. &c. Emotion distinguished from pas­sion i. 52. &c. Emotions generated by relations i. 76. &c. Primary, secondary i. 81. Raised by fiction i. 104. &c. Division of emotions into plea­sant and painful, agreeable and disagreeable i. 127. &c. iii. 387. The interrupted existence of emo­tions i. 139. &c. Their growth and decay i. 139. &c. Their identity i. 141. Co-existent emotions i. 151. &c. Emotions similar and dissimilar i. 153. Complex emotion i. 154. 155. Effects of similar emotions when co-existent i. 155. iii. 336. Ef­fects of dissimilar emotions when co-existent i. 159. iii. 303. 337. Emotions resemble their causes i. 217. &c. Emotion of grandeur i. 266. &c. of sublimity i. 269. A low emotion i. 276. Emotion of laughter i. 337. of ridicule i. 341. Emotions when contrasted ought not to be too slow or too quick in their succession i. 373. Emotions raised by the fine arts ought to be contrasted in succession i. 374. Emotion of congruity ii. 12. of propriety ii. 12. Emotions produced by human actions ii. 28. Emotions ranked according to their dignity ii. 32. External signs of emotions ch. 15. ii. 116. [Page] Attractive and repulsive emotions ii. 133. Emo­tion and passions expanded upon related objects i. 76. &c. ii. 312. &c. 336. 372. 415. 416. iii. 60. &c. 139. 140. Gratification of emotions i. 183. &c. 203. 358. iii. 98. What emotions do best in succession, what in conjunction iii. 302. Man is passive with regard to his emotions iii. 377. We are conscious of emotions as in the heart iii. 377.
  • Emphasis) must not be put upon a low word ii. 405.
  • Eneid) its unity of action iii. 263.
  • English plays) generally irregular iii. 292.
  • English tongue) too rough ii. 247. It is peculiarly qualified for personification iii. 63. Note.
  • Envy) defined i. 55. It magnifies every bad quality in its object i. 187.
  • Epic poem) no improbable fact ought to be admitted in it i. 124. Machinery in it has a bad effect i. 125. It doth not always reject ludicrous images i. 378. We pardon many faults in it which are in­tolerable in a sonnet or epigram i. 299. Its com­mencement ought to be modest and simple iii. 171 In what respect it differs from a tragedy iii. 218. Distinguished into pathetic and moral iii. 221. Its good effects iii. 223. Compared with tragedy as to the subjects proper for each iii. 225. How far it may borrow from history iii. 234. Rule for divi­ding it into parts iii. 236.
  • Epic poetry ch. 22. iii. 218.
  • Episode) in an historical poem iii. 250.
  • Epistles dedicatory) censured ii. 6. Note.
  • Epithets) redundant iii. 206.
  • Epitritus ii. 462.
  • [Page] Esteem) love of i. 237. 286.
  • Esther) of Racine censured ii. 193. 198.
  • Evergreens) cut in the shape of animals iii. 309.
  • Expression) elevated, low i. 276. Expression that has no distinct meaning ii. 232. Two members of a sentence which express a resemblance betwixt two objects ought to have a resemblance to each other ii. 270. &c.
  • External senses) distinguished into two kinds i. 1. Ex­ternal sense iii. 375.
  • External signs) of emotions and passions ch. 15. ii. 116. External signs of passion, what emotions they raise in a spectator ii. 131. &c.
  • Faculty) by which we know passion from its external signs ii. 136.
  • Fairy Queen) criticised iii. 120.
  • False quantity) painful to the ear ii. 386.
  • Fame) love of i. 237.
  • Fashion) its influence accounted for i. 80. Fashion is in a continual flux i. 256.
  • Fear) explained i. 95. &c. rises often to its utmost pitch in an instant i. 148. is infectious i. 221.
  • Feeling) its different significations iii. 379.
  • Fiction) emotions raised by fiction i. 104. &c.
  • Figure) beauty of i. 248. Definition of a regular fi­gure iii. 389.
  • Figures) some passions favourable to figurative expres­sion ii. 20 [...]. Figures ch. 20. iii. 53. Figure of speech iii. 70. 113. 136. &c.
  • Final cause) of our sense of order and connection i. 41. of the sympathetic emotion of virtue i. 74. [Page] of the instinctive passion of fear i. 96. 97. of the instinctive passion of anger i. 103. of ideal pre­sence i. 121. of the power that fiction has on the mind i. 126. of emotions and passions i. 222. &c. of regularity, uniformity, order, and simplicity i. 249. 251. of proportion i. 250. of beauty i. 262. why certain objects are neither pleasant nor painful i. 272. 309. of the pleasure we have in motion and force i. 318. of curiosity l. 320. of wonder i. 335. of surprise i. 336. of the principle that prompts us to perfect every work i. 366. of the pleasure or pain that results from the different circumstances of a train of perceptions i. 397. &c. of congruity and propriety ii. 18. &c. of dignity and meanness ii. 35. &c. of habit ii. 106. &c. of the external signs of passion and emotion ii. 127. 137. &c. why articulate sounds singly agreeable are always agreeable in conjunction ii. 241. of the plea­sure we have in language iii. 208. of our relish for various proportions in quantity iii. 333. of our con­viction of a common standard in every species of beings iii. 362. of uniformity of taste in the fine arts iii. 363. 364. why the sense of a right and a wrong in the fine arts is less clear and authorita­tive than the sense of a right and a wrong in actions iii. 368.
  • Fine arts) defined i. 6. 7. 16. a subject of reasoning i. 8. Their emotions ought to be contrasted in suc­cession i. 374. considered with respect to dignity ii. 34. How far they may be regulated by custom ii. 108. None of them are imitative but painting and sculpture ii. 234. Aberrations from a true taste [Page] in these arts iii. 366. Who are qualified to be jud­ges in the fine arts iii. 371.
  • Fluid) motion of fluids i. 311.
  • Foot) a list of verse feet ii. 459.
  • Force) produces a feeling that resembles it i. 218. Force i. 309. &c. Moving force i. 312. The plea­sure of force differs from that of motion i. 313. It contributes to grandeur i. 315.
  • Foreign) preference given to foreign curiosities i. 331.
  • Fountains) in what form they ought to be iii. 313.
  • Friendship) considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33.
  • Games) public games of the Greeks i. 314.
  • Gardening) grandeur of manner in gardening i. 294. Its emotions ought to be contrasted in succession i. 375. A small garden ought to be confined to a single expression i. 376. A garden near a great ci­ty ought to have an air of solitude i. 376. A gar­den in a wild country ought to be gay and splen­did i. 377. Gardening ch. 24. iii. 294. What e­motions can be raised by it iii. 296. Its emotions compared with those of architecture iii. 297. Sim­plicity ought to be the governing taste iii. 300. Wherein the unity of a garden consists iii. 304. How far ought regularity to be studied in it iii. 305. Resemblance carried too far in it iii. 305. Note. Grandeur in gardening iii. 306. Every unnatural object ought to be rejected iii. 308. Distant and faint imitations displease iii. 309. The effect of gi­ving play to the imagination iii. 318. Gardening [Page] inspires henevolence iii. 320. and contributes to rectitude of manners iii. 350.
  • General idea) there cannot be such a thing iii. 383. Note.
  • General terms) ought to be avoided in compositions for amusement iii. 198.
  • General theorems) why they are agreeable i. 255.
  • Genetic habit) defined ii. 95.
  • Generosity) why of greater dignity than justice ii. 31.
  • Genus) defined iii. 399.
  • Gestures) that accompany the different passions ii. 120. 121. 125.
  • Gierusalleme liberata) censured iii. 242. 249.
  • Good nature) why of less dignity than courage or ge­nerosity ii. 31.
  • Gothic tower) its beauty iii. 324.
  • Government) natural foundation of submission to go­vernment i. 236.
  • Grandeur) demands not strict regularity i. 257. 298. Grandeur and sublimity Ch. 4. i. 264. Real and figurative grandeur intimately connected i. 279. Grandeur of manner i. 288. Grandeur may be em­ployed indirectly to humble the mind i. 300. Suits ill with wit and ridicule i. 377. Figurative gran­deur distinguished from figurative elevation iii. 21. 22. Grandeur in gardening iii. 306. Regularity and proportion hide the grandeur of a building iii. 342.
  • Gratification) of passion i. 58. 59. 65. 66. 183. &c. 203. 358 iii. 98.
  • Gratitude) exerted upon the children of the benefactor i. 187. Punishment of ingratitude ii. 25. Gratitude [Page] considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33.
  • Grief) magnifies its cause i. 190. occasions a false reckoning of time i. 211. is infectious i. 220. when immoderate is silent ii. 204.
  • Gross pleasure i. 137.
  • Guido) censured iii. 131.
  • Habit) ch. 14. ii. 81. distinguished from custom ii. 82.
  • Harmony) or concord in objects of sight i. 156. Dis­tinguished from melody ii. 358. Note.
  • Hatred) signifies more commonly affection than pas­sion i. 146.
  • Hearing) in hearing we feel no impression iii. 380.
  • Henriade) censured iii. 178. 236. 243. 249.
  • Hexameter) Virgils hexameters extremely melodious; those of Horace not always so ii. 357. Structure of an hexameter line ii. 364. Rules for its struc­ture ii. 367. Musical pauses in an hexameter line ii. 368. Wherein its melody consists ii. 380.
  • Hippolytus) of Euripides censured ii. 197. iii. 286. 288.
  • History) histories of conquerors and heroes singularly agreeable. Why? i. 72. 285. By what means does history raise our passions i. 115. 118. It rejects poe­tical images iii. 170.
  • Homer) defective in order and connection i. 35. His language finely suited to his subject iii. 194. His repetitions defended iii. 204. His poems in a great measure dramatic iii. 220. censured iii. 246.
  • Horace) defective in connection i. 35. His hexame­ters [Page] not always melodious ii. 358. Their defects pointed out ii. 380.
  • Horror) objects of horror ought to be banished from poetry and painting iii. 213.
  • Humour) defined ii. 44. Humour in writing distin­guished from humour in character ii. 44.
  • Hyperbole iii. 89.
  • Hyppobacchius ii. 460.
  • Iambic verse) its modulation faint ii. 358.
  • Iambus ii. 459.
  • Jane Shore) censured ii. 168.
  • Idea) succession of ideas i. 381. Idea of memory defi­ned iii. 382. cannot be innate iii. 382. Note. No general ideas iii. 383. Note. Idea of an object of sight more distinct than of any other object iii. 384. Ideas distinguished into three kinds iii. 386. Idea of imagination not so pleasant as an idea of memo­ry iii. 393.
  • Ideal presence i. 107. &c.
  • Identity) of passions and emotions i. 141.
  • Jet d'eau i. 313. 314. iii. 308. 310.
  • Jingle of words ii. 231.
  • Iliad) criticised iii. 263.
  • Imagination) not always at rest even in sleep i. 337. Effect in gardening of giving play to it iii. 318. Its power of fabricating images iii. 385.
  • Imitation) we naturally imitate virtuous actions i. 220. not those that are vicious i. 221. None of the fine arts imitate nature except painting and sculpture ii. 234. The agreeableness of imitation overbalances [Page] the disagreeableness of the subject iii. 208. Distant and faint imitations displease iii. 309.
  • Impression) made on the organ of sense iii. 380.
  • Impropriety) in action raises contempt i. 340. Its pu­nishment ii. 15.
  • Impulse) a strong impulse succeeding a weak, makes a double impression: a weak impulse succeeding a strong, makes scarce any impression ii. 251.
  • Infinite series) becomes disagreeable when prolonged i. 365. Note.
  • Innate idea) there cannot be such a thing iii. 382. Note.
  • Instrument) the means or instrument conceived to be the agent iii. 98. &c.
  • Intellectual pleasure i. 2. 3.
  • Internal senseiii. 375.
  • Intrinsic beauty i. 244.
  • Intuitive conviction) of the veracity of our senses i. 105. of the dignity of human nature ii. 29. iii. 361. of a common nature or standard in every species of beings iii. 356. and of the perfection of that stand­ard iii. 357. also that it is invariable iii. 357. In­tuitive conviction that the external signs of passion are natural, and the same in all men ii. 135.
  • Inversion) an inverted style described ii. 290. &c. Inversion gives force and liveliness to the expres­sion by suspending the thought till the close ii. 324. Inversion how regulated ii. 330. 331. 332. Beauties of inversion ii. 331. 332. Full scope for it in blank verse ii. 438.
  • Ionicus ii. 461.
  • [Page] Joy) its cause i. 65. infectious i. 220. considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33.
  • Iphigenia) of Racine censured ii. 112.
  • Iphigenia in Tauris) censured iii. 287. 288. 289.
  • Irony) defined ii. 50.
  • Italian tongue) too smooth ii. 246. Note.
  • Judgement) and memory in perfection, seldom united i. 28. Judgement seldom united with wit i. 28.
  • Julius Caesar) of Shakespear censured ii. 200.
  • Justice) of less dignity than generosity or courage ii. 31.
  • Kent) his skill in gardening iii. 303.
  • Key-note ii. 348. 361.
  • Kitchen-garden iii. 315.
  • Labyrinth) in a garden iii. 310.
  • Landscape) why it is so agreeable i. 156. The plea­sure it gives explained i. 298. A landscape in paint­ing ought to be confined to a single expression i. 376.
  • Language) power of language to raise emotions, whence derived i. 112. 121. Language of passion ch. 17. ii. 204. broken and interrupted ii. 206. of impe­tuous passion ii. 210. of languid passion ii. 210. of calm emotions ii. 211. of turbulent passion ii. 211. Language elevated above the tone of the senti­ment ii. 224. too artificial or too figurative ii. 225. too light or airy ii. 227. Language how far imitative of nature ii. 234. its beauty with respect to signification ii. 235. 254. &c. its beauty with respect to sound ii. 238. it ought to correspond [Page] to the subject ii. 258. its structure explained ii. 285. Beauty of language from a resemblance: betwixt sound and signification ii. 333. &c. The force of language proceeds from raising complete images iii. 174. its power of producing pleasant emotions iii. 208. Without language man would scarce be a rational being iii. 406.
  • L'avare) of Moliere censured ii. 198.
  • Laughter i. 338.
  • Laugh of derision or scorn ii. 16.
  • Law) defined ii. 22.
  • Laws of human nature) necessary succession of per­ceptions i. 21. 380. We never act but through the impulse of desire i. 55. 222. An object loses its re­lish by familiarity i. 144. Passions sudden in their growth are equally sudden in their decay i. 148. ii. 91. Every passion ceases upon attaining its ul­timate end i. 148.
  • Laws of motion) agreeable i. 255.
  • Les Freres ennemies) of Racine censured ii. 177.
  • Lex talionis) upon what principle founded i. 370.
  • Line) definition of a regular line iii. 389.
  • Littleness) is neither pleasant nor painful i. 272.
  • Logic) cause of its obscurity and intricacy ii. 138.
  • Logio) improper in this climate iii. 327.
  • Love) to children accounted for i. 82. The love a man bears to his country explained i. 88. Love produ­ced by pity i. 93. It signifies more commonly af­fection than passion i. 146. To a lover absence appears long i. 202. Love assumes the qualities of its object i. 219. considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33. seldom constant when found­ed [Page] on exquisite beauty ii. 101. ill represented in French plays ii. 194. when immoderate is silent ii. 205.
  • Love for love) censured iii. 266.
  • Lowness) is neither pleasant nor painful i. 272.
  • Lucan) too minute in his descriptions i. 292. censured iii. 220.
  • Ludicrous i. 338. may be introduced into an epic poem i. 378.
  • Lutrin) censured for incongruity ii. 9. characterized ii. 41.
  • Luxury) corrupts our taste iii. 370.
  • Machinery) ought to be excluded from an epic poem i. 125. iii. 239. does well in a burlesk poem i. 125.
  • Man) fitted for society i. 237. Conformity of the na­ture of man to his external circumstances i. 310. ii. 143. The different branches of his internal consti­tution finely suited to each other iii. 33 [...]. 364.
  • Manners) gross and refined i. 1 [...]8. The bad tendency of rough and blunt manners ii. 141. Note.
  • Marvellous) in epic poetry iii. 246.
  • Meanness ii. 27. &c.
  • Means) the means or instrument conceived to be the agent iii. 98. &c.
  • Measure) natural measure of time i. 200. &c. of space, i. [...]11. &c.
  • Medea) of Euripides censured iii. 287.
  • Melody) or modulation defined ii. 355. distinguished from harmony ii. 358. Note.
  • Members of a period) have a fine effect placed in an increasing series ii. 252.
  • [Page] Memory) and judgement in perfection seldom united i. 28. Memory and wit often united i. 28. Memo­ry iii. 381.
  • Merry wives of Windsor) its double plot well contri­ved iii. 253.
  • Metaphor iii. 108. &c.
  • Metre ii. 381.
  • Mile) the computed miles are longer in a barren than in a populous country i. 209.
  • Milton) his style much inverted ii. 439. The defect of his versification is the want of coincidence be­twixt the pauses of the sense and the sound ii. 445. the beauty of Milton's comparisons iii. 16.
  • Moderation) in our desires contributes the most to hap­piness i. 263.
  • Modern manners) make a poor figure in an epic poem iii. 235.
  • Modification) defined iii. 399.
  • Modulation) defined ii. 355.
  • Molossus ii. 459.
  • Monosyllables) English, arbitrary as to quantity ii. 383.
  • Moral duties) See Duties.
  • Morality) its foundation iii. 358. Aberrations from its true standard iii. 366.
  • Moral tragedy iii. 221.
  • Motion) productive of feelings that resemble it i. 217. Its laws agreeable i. 255. Motion and force, ch. 5. i. 309. &c. What motions are the most agreeable i. 310. Regular motion i. 311. accelerated motion i. 311. upward motion i. 311. undulating motion i. 311. Motion of fluids i. 311. A body moved [Page] neither agreeable nor disagreeable i. 312. The pleasure of motion differs from that of force i. 313. Grace of motion i. 317. Motions of the hu­man body i. 317.
  • Motive) defined i. 58. 59.
  • Mount) artificial iii. 313.
  • Mourning Bride) censured ii. 180. 197. iii. 279. 292.
  • Music) vocal distinguished from instrumental i. 166. What subjects proper for vocal music i. 166. &c. Music betwixt the acts of a play, the advantages that may be drawn from it iii. 283. Though it cannot raise a passion, it disposes the heart to va­rious passions iii. 284.
  • Musical instruments) their different effects upon the mind i. 283.
  • Musical measure) defined ii. 355.
  • Narration) it animates a narrative to represent things past as present i. 118. Narration and description, ch. 21. iii. 169. It animates a narrative, to make it dramatic iii. 197. 220.
  • Nation) defined iii. 404.
  • Note, a high note and a low note in music i. 278.
  • Novelty and the unexpected appearance of objects, ch. 6. i. 319. Novelty a pleasant emotion i. 322. &c. distinguished from variety i. 329. its different degrees i. 329. &c.
  • Number) defined iii. 331.
  • Numerus) defined ii. 355.
  • Object) of a passion defined i. 56. An agreeable ob­ject produceth a pleasant emotion, and a disagree­able [Page] object a painful emotion i. 223. attractive ob­ject i. 226. repulsive object i. 226. Objects of sight the most complex i. 243. Objects that are neither pleasant nor painful i. 272. 309. 312. Ob­jects of external sense in what place they are per­ceived iii. 370. Objects of internal sense iii. 377. All objects of sight are complex iii. 400. Objects simple and complex iii. 401. Object defined iii. 406.
  • Old Bachelor) censured iii. 266.
  • Opera) censured ii. 9.
  • Opinion) influenced by passion i. 183. &c. iii. 55. influenced by propensity i. 199. influenced by affec­tion i. 199. why differing from me in opinion is disagreeable iii. [...]59. Opinion defined iii. 396.
  • Oration) pro Archia poeta censured ii. 329.
  • Orchard iii. [...].
  • Order) i. 28. &c. iii. 392. pleasure we have in order i. 32. necessary in all compositions i. 34. Sense of order has an influence upon our passions i. 81. 89. when a list of many particulars is brought into a period, in what order should they be placed? ii. 321. Order in stating facts iii. 264.
  • Organ of sense i. 1.
  • Organic pleasure i 1. 2. 3. 4.
  • Orlando Furioso) censured iii. 264.
  • Ornament) redundant ornaments ought to be avoided iii. 168. Ornaments in architecture iii. 342. Alle­gorical or emblematic ornaments iii. 347.
  • Othello) censured iii. 215.
  • [Page]Paeon ii. 461.
  • Pain) cessation of pain extremely pleasant i. 68. Pain lesens by custom ii. 102. iii. 355. Some pains felt internally some externally iii 387.
  • Painful emotions and passions i 127. &c.
  • Painting) in grotesque painting the figures ought to be small, in historical painting as great as the life i. 279. Grandeur of manner in painting i. 293. Painting is an imitation of nature ii. 234. In histo­ry-painting the principal figure ought to be in the best light iii. 201. A good picture agreeable, though the subject be disagreeable iii. 208. Ob­jects that strike terror have a fine effect in painting iii. 211. Objects of horror ought not to be repre­sented iii. 213. What emotions can be raised by painting iii. 296.
  • Panic i. 221.
  • Parallelogram) its beauty i. 252.
  • Parody) defined ii. 52. 160. Note.
  • Particles ii. 404. not capable of an accent ii. 405. 416.
  • Passion) no pleasure of external sense denominated a passion except of seeing and hearing i. 42. Passion distinguished from emotion i. 52. 53. 54. Passions distinguished into instinctive and deliberative i. 58. 95. &c. What are selfish, what social i. 59. What dissocial i. 62. Passion founded on relations i. 76. &c. A passion paves the way to others in the same tone i. 92. Passions considered as pleasant or painful, agreeable or disagreeable i. 127. &c. as refined or gross i. 137. Their interrupted exist­ence i. 139. &c. Their growth and decay i. 139. [Page] &c. The identity of a passion i. 141. The bulk of our passions are the affections of love or hatred inflamed into a passion i. 146. Passions swell by opposition i. 146. A passion sudden in growth is sudden in decay i. 148. ceases upon attaining its ultimate end i. 148. Co-existent passions i. 151. &c. Passions similar and dissimilar i. 171. Fluc­tuation of passion i. 178. &c. Its influence upon our opinions and belief i. 183. &c. 203. 358. Its influence upon our perceptions i. 215. 216. Prone to its gratification i. 238. 239. has an influence e­ven upon our eye-sight i. 362. 363. Passions rank­ed according to their dignity ii. 32. No disagree­able passion is attended with dignity ii. 33. Social passions of greater dignity than selfish ii. 37. Ex­ternal signs of passion ch. 15. ii. 116. Passion ge­nerally fluctuates, swelling and subsiding by turns ii. 163. Language of passion ch. 17. ii. 204. &c. A pas­sion when immoderate is silent ii. 204. Language of passion broken and interrupted ii. 206. What passions admit figurative expression ii. 208. Lan­guage proper for impetuous passion ii. 210. for me­lancholy ii. 210. for calm emotions ii. 211. for turbulent passion ii. 211. Passions expanded upon related objects i. 76. &c. ii. 312. &c. 336. 372. 415. 416. iii. 60. &c. 139. 140. With regard to passion man is passive iii. 377. We are conscious of passions as in the heart iii. 377.
  • Passionate) personification iii. 64.
  • Passive subject) defined iii. 406.
  • Pathetic tragedy iii. 221.
  • Pause) pauses necessary for three different purpo­ses [Page] ii. 360. Musical pauses in an hexameter line ii. 368. Musical pauses ought to coincide with those in the sense ii. 371. 375. What musical pau­ses are essential in English heroic verse ii. 388. Rules concerning them ii. 390. &c. Pause and ac­cent have a mutual influence ii. 428.
  • Pedestal) ought to be sparingly ornamented iii. 347.
  • Perceptions) succession of i. 380. Perception defined iii. 378. Original and secondary iii. 382. Simple and complex iii. 383.
  • Period) has a fine effect when its members proceed in the form of an increasing series ii. 252. In the periods of a discourse variety ought to be studied ii. 253. Different thoughts ought not to be crowd­ed into one period ii. 263. The scene ought not to be changed in a period ii. 278. A period so ar­ranged as to express the sense clearly, seems more musical than where the sense is left doubtful ii. 307. In what part of the period doth a word make the greatest figure ii. 318. A period ought to be closed with that word which makes the greatest fi­gure ii. 320. When there is occasion to mention many particulars, in what order ought they to be placed ii. 321. A short period is lively and fami­liar, a long period grave and solemn ii. 328. A dis­course ought not to commence with a long period ii. 329.
  • Personification iii. 54. &c. Passionate and descriptive iii. 64.
  • Perspicuity) a capital requisite in writing ii. 256.
  • Pharsalia) censured iii. 220.
  • Phedra) of Racine censured ii. 113. 216.
  • [Page] Pilaster) less beautiful than a column iii. 345.
  • Pindar) defective in order and connection i. 35.
  • Pity) defined i. 55. apt to produce love i. 93. always painful, yet always agreeable i. 134. resembles its cause i. 221. What are the proper subjects for rai­sing pity iii. 226.
  • Planetary system) its beauty i. 316.
  • Play) is a chain of connected facts, each scene making a link iii. 266.
  • Play of words) ii. 71. 228 &c. Comparisons that re­solve into a play of words iii. 42.
  • Pleasant emotions and passions i. 127. &c. Pleasant pain explained i. 155.
  • Pleasure) pleasures of seeing and hearing distinguished from those of the other senses i. 1. 2. &c. Plea­sure of order i. 32. of connection i. 32. Pleasures of taste, touch, and smell, not termed emotions or passions i. 42. Pleasures refined and gross i. 137. Corporeal pleasure low and sometimes mean ii. 32. Pleasures of the eye and ear never low or mean ii. 32. Pleasures of the understanding are high in point of dignity ii. 34. Some pleasures felt internally, some externally iii. 387.
  • Poet) the chief talent of a poet who deals in the pa­thetic ii. 119.
  • Poetry) objects that strike terror have a fine effect in it iii. 211. Objects of horror ought to be banished from it iii. 213. Poetry has power over all the hu­man affections iii. 296. The most successful in de­scribing objects of sight iii. 385.
  • Polite behaviour i. 138.
  • Polygon) regular its beauty i. 252.
  • [Page] Polysyllables) how far agreeable to the ear ii. 242. seldom have place in the construction of English verse ii. 385. 421.
  • Pompey) of Corneille censured ii. 176. 191. 194.
  • Pope excels in the variety of his melody ii. 411. His style compared with that of Swift iii. 198.
  • Posture) constrained posture disagreeable to the spec­tator i. 219.
  • Power of abstraction iii. 401. Its use iii. 402. 403.
  • Prepositions) explained ii. 289.
  • Pride) incites us to ridicule the blunders and absurdi­ties of others ii. 17. Considered with respect to dig­nity and meanness ii. 34. Its external expressions or signs disagreeable ii. 132.
  • Primary and secondary qualities of matter i. 259.
  • Principle) of order i. 28. 29. of morality i. 49. 74. ii. 21. of self-preservation i. 96. of selfishness i. 227. 229. of benevolence i. 228. 229. Principle that makes us fond of esteem i. 237. 286. of curio­sity i. 320. 345. &c. of habit ii. 105. Principle that makes us wish others to be of our opinion iii. 57. 359. Principle defined iii. 394. See Propensity.
  • Principles of the fine arts i. 7.
  • Proceleusmaticus ii. 461.
  • Prodigies) find ready credit with the vulgar i. 198.
  • Prologue of the ancient tragedy iii. 271.
  • Pronoun) defined ii. 310.
  • Pronunciation) rules for it ii. 347. &c. distinguished from singing ii. 348. Singing and pronouncing com­pared ii. 351.
  • Propensity) opinion and belief influenced by it i. 199. Propensity to fit objects for the gratification of our [Page] passions i. 184. iii. 98. Propensity to justify our passions and actions i. 185. Propensity to punish guilt and reward virtue i. 231. Propensity to car­ry along the good or bad properties of one subject to another i. 76. ii. 235. 307. 312. 372. 415. 416. iii. 101. Propensity to complete every work that is begun and to carry things to perfection i. 364. 365. iii. 262. 345. Propensity to communicate to others every thing that affects us ii. 204. Propen­sity to place together things mutually connected ii. 308. Propensity defined iii. 394. See Principle.
  • Properties) transferred from one subject to another iii. 100. &c.
  • Property) the affection man bears to his property i. 84.
  • Prophecy) those who believe in prophecies wish the ac­complishment i. 239.
  • Propriety ii. 3. &c. distinguished from congruity ii. 8. distinguished from proportion ii. 19. Propriety in buildings iii. 338.
  • Proportion) distinguished from propriety ii. 19. As to quantity coincides with congruity ii. 19. exami­ned as applied to architecture iii. 328. Propor­tion defined iii. 391.
  • Prose) distinguished from verse ii. 353.
  • Prospect) pleasure of a fine prospect i. 298. An un­bounded prospect disagreeable i. 366. Note.
  • Provok'd husband) censured iii. 253.
  • Pun) defined ii. 77.
  • Punishment) in the place where the crime was com­mitted i. 371. Punishment of impropriety ii. 15.
  • [Page] Public games) of the Greeks i. 314.
  • Pyrrhichius ii. 459.
  • Qualities) primary and secondary i. 259. A quality cannot be conceived independent of the subject to which it belongs ii. 293. Different qualities percei­ved by different senses iii. 376.
  • Quantity) with respect to melody ii. 363. 383. Quan­tity with respect to English verse ii. 383.
  • Quintilian) censured iii. 92.
  • Quintus Curtius) censured ii. 167.
  • Racine) criticised ii. 216. &c.
  • Rape of the Lock) characteriz'd ii. 43. admirable ver­sification ii. 362.
  • Reading) chief talent of a fine reader ii. 120. Plaintive passions require a slow pronunciation ii. 161. Note. Rules for reading ii. 347. &c. compared with sing­ing ii. 351.
  • Reason) reasons to justify a favourite opinion are al­ways at hand and much relished i. 186.
  • Refined pleasure i. 137.
  • Regularity) not essential in grand objects i. 257. re­quired in a small work, not so much in one that is extensive i. 299. how far to be studied in architec­ture iii. 301. 322. 328. how far to be studied in a garden iii. 305. Regular line defined iii. 389. Regular figure defined iii. 389. Regularity proper and figurative iii. 390.
  • Relations i. 22. 23. have an influence in generating emotions and passions i. 76. &c. are the foundation of congruity and propriety ii. 5. in what manner are relations expressed in words ii. 286.
  • [Page] Relative beauty i. 244.
  • Remorse) its gratification i. 232. is not mean. ii. 34.
  • Repartee ii. 80.
  • Representation) its perfection lies in hiding itself and producing an impression of reality iii. 279.
  • Repulsive) object i. 226. Repulsive emotions ii. 133.
  • Resemblance) and contrast, ch. 8. i. 345. The members of a sentence signifying a resemblance betwixt ob­jects ought to resemble each other ii. 270. &c. Resembling causes may produce effects that have no resemblance, and causes that have no resemblance may produce resembling effects ii. 337. &c. Re­semblance carried too far in some gardens iii. 305. Note.
  • Resentment) explained i. 98. &c. disagreeable in ex­cess i. 134. extended against relations of the of­fender i. 190. its gratification i. 231. when immo­derate is silent ii. 205.
  • Rest) neither agreeable nor disagreeable i. 309.
  • Revenge) animates but doth not elevate the mind i. 283. has no dignity in it ii. 33.
  • Reverie) cause of the pleasure we have in it i. 112.
  • Rhyme) for what subjects it is proper ii. 447. &c. Melody of rhyme ii. 449.
  • Rhythmus) defined ii. 355.
  • Riches) love of, corrupts the taste iii. 370.
  • Riddle iii. 310.
  • Ridicule) a gross pleasure i. 138. is losing ground in England i. 138. Emotion of ridicule i. 341. not concordant with grandeur i. 377. Ridicule ii. 16. 40. &c. whether it be a test of truth ii. 55.
  • Ridiculous) distinguished from risible i. 341.
  • [Page] Risible objects, ch. 7. i. 337. Risible distinguished from ridiculous i. 341.
  • Rubens) censured iii. 130.
  • Ruin) ought not to be seen from a flower-parterre iii. 303. in what form it ought to be iii. 313.
  • Sallust) censured for want of connection i. 37.
  • Sapphic verse) has a very agreeable modulation ii. 358.
  • Scorn ii. 16.
  • Sculpture) imitates nature ii. 234. what emotions can be raised by it iii. 296.
  • Secchia rapita) characterized ii. 41.
  • Secondary qualities of matter i. 259.
  • Seeing) in seeing we feel no impression iii. 380. Ob­jects of sight are all of them complex iii. 400.
  • Self-deceit i. 185. ii. 190.
  • Selfish passions i. 59. are pleasant i. 131. less refined than the social i. 137. inferior in dignity to the so­cial ii. 37.
  • Selfishness) promoted by luxury iii. 370. and also by love of riches iii. 370.
  • Self-love) its prevalence accounted for i. 63. in excess disagreeable i. 134. not inconsistent with benevo­lence i. 228.
  • Semipause) in an hexameter line ii. 369. what semi­pauses are found in an English heroic line ii. 390.
  • Sensation) defined iii. 378.
  • Sense) of order i. 28. &c. contributes to generate e­motions i. 81. and passions i. 89. Sense of right and wrong i. 49. of the veracity of our senses i. 105. Sense of congruity or propriety ii. 6. of the dignity of human nature ii. 29. iii. 361. Sense by [Page] which we discover a passion from its external signs ii. 136. Sense of a common nature in every spe­cies of beings iii. 356. Sense internal and external iii. 375. In touching, tasting, and smelling, we feel the impression at the organ of sense, not in seeing and hearing iii. 380.
  • Sentence) it detracts from neatness to vary the scene in the same sentence ii. 278. A sentence so arran­ged as to express the sense clearly, seems always more musical than where the sense is left in any degree doubtful ii. 307.
  • Sentiment) elevated, low i. 276. Sentiments ch. 16. ii. 149. Sentiments expressing the swelling of pas­sion ii. 164. expressing the different stages of a pas­sion ii. 165. dictated by co-existent passions ii. 169. Sentiments of strong passions are hid or dis­sembled ii. 171. Sentiments above the tone of the passion ii. 175. below the tone of the passion ii. 176. Sentiments too gay for a serious passion ii. 178. too artificial for a serious passion ii. 179. fanciful or finical ii. 182. discordant with character ii. 186. misplaced ii. 189. Immoral sentiments expressed without disguise ii. 189. unnatural ii. 196. Senti­ment defined iii. 396.
  • Series) from small to great agreeable i. 272. Ascend­ing series i. 274. Descending series i. 275. The ef­fect of a number of objects placed in an increasing or decreasing series ii. 249.
  • Serpentine river) its beauty i. 311. iii. 316.
  • Sertorius) of Corneille censured ii. 163.
  • Shaft) of a column iii. 346.
  • Shakespear) criticised ii. 212. deals little in inversion [Page] ii. 439. excells in drawing characters iii. 182. his style in what respect excellent iii. 198. his dialogue excellent iii. 257. deals not in barren scenes iii. 267.
  • Shame) is not mean ii. 34.
  • Similar emotions i. 153. their effects when co-exist­ent i. 155. iii. 336. Similar passions i. 171. Ef­fects of co-existent similar passions i. 171.
  • Simple perception iii. 383.
  • Simplicity) beauty of i. 247. 254. abandoned in the fine arts i. 255. a great beauty in tragedy iii. 252. Note. ought to be the governing taste in garden­ing and architecture iii. 300.
  • Singing) distinguished from pronouncing or reading ii. 348. Singing and pronouncing compared ii. 351.
  • Situation) different situations suited to different build­ings iii. 339.
  • Smelling) in smelling we feel an impression upon the organ of sense iii. 380.
  • Smoke) the pleasure of ascending smoke accounted for i. 33. 313.
  • Social passions i. 59. more refined than the selfish i. 137. of greater dignity ii. 37.
  • Society) advantages of i. 237. 238. 240.
  • Soliloquy) has a foundation in nature ii. 123. Solilo. quies ii. 218. &c.
  • Sorrow) cause of it i. 65.
  • Sounds) concordant i. 151. discordant i. 152. produce emotions that resemble them i. 218. articulate how far agreeable to the ear ii. 240. A smooth sound sooths the mind, and a rough sound animates ii. 245.
  • [Page] Space) natural computation of space i. 211. &c.
  • Species) defined iii. 399.
  • Specific habit) defined ii. 95.
  • Speech) power of speech to raise emotions, whence derived i. 112. 121.
  • Spondee ii. 364. &c. ii. 459.
  • Square) its beauty i. 251.
  • Stairs) their proportion iii. 323.
  • Standard) of taste ch. 25. iii. 351. Standard of mo­rals iii. 367.
  • Star) in gardening iii. 307.
  • Statue) the reason why a statue is not coloured i. 372. An equestrian statue is placed in a centre of streets that it may be seen from many places at once iii. 201. Statue of an animal pouring out wa­ter iii. 308. of a water-god pouring water out of his urn iii. 350.
  • Strada) censured iii. 170.
  • Style) natural and inverted ii. 290. &c. The beauties of a natural style ii. 332. of an inverted style ii. 332. Concise style a great ornament iii. 204.
  • Subject) may be conceived independent of any parti­cular quality ii. 293. Subject with respect to its qualities iii. 376. Subject defined iii. 406.
  • Sublimity i. 264. &c. Sublime in poetry i. 277. Sub­limity may be employed indirectly to sink the mind i. 300. False sublime i. 303. 306.
  • Submission) natural foundation of submission to go­vernment i. 236.
  • Substance) defined iii. 406.
  • Substratum) defined iii. 376.
  • Succession) of perceptions and ideas i. 380. &c.
  • [Page] Superlatives) inferior writers deal in superlatives iii. 195.
  • Surprise) instantaneous i. 142. 321. pleasant or pain­ful according to circumstances i. 326. &c. Surprise is the cause of contrast i. 359. Surprise a silent pas­sion ii. 205. studied in Chinese gardens iii. 319.
  • Suspense) an uneasy state i. 205.
  • Sweet distress) explained i. 155.
  • Swift) his language always suited to his subject iii. 194. has a peculiar energy of style iii. 198. com­pared with Pope iii. 198.
  • Syllable ii. 239. Syllables long and short ii. 363.
  • Sympathy) sympathetic emotion of virtue i. 70. Sym­pathy i. 229. attractive i. 230. never low nor mean ii. 32. the cement of society ii. 143.
  • Synthetic) and analytic methods of reasoning compa­red i. 31.
  • Tacitus) excells in drawing characters iii. 182. his style comprehensive iii. 204.
  • Tasso) censured iii. 242.
  • Taste) in tasting we feel an impression upon the organ of sense iii. 380. Taste in the fine arts compared with the moral sense i. 7. its advantages i. 10. &c. Delicacy of taste i. 136. A low taste i. 276. The foundation of a right and a wrong in taste iii. 358. Taste in the fine arts as well as in morals corrupted by voluptuousness iii. 370. corrupted by love of riches iii. 370. Taste never naturally bad or wrong iii. 372. Aberrations from a true taste in the fine arts iii. 366.
  • Tautology) a blemish in writing iii. 205.
  • [Page] Temples) of Ancient and Modern Virtue in the gar­dens of Stow iii. 348.
  • Terence) censured iii. 288. 290.
  • Terror) arises sometimes to its utmost height instanta­neously i. 143. a silent passion ii. 205. Objects that strike terror have a fine effect in poetry and painting iii. 211. The terror raised by tragedy ex­plained iii. 228.
  • Theorem) general theorems agreeable i. 255.
  • Time) past time expressed as present i. 118. Natural computation of time i. 200. &c.
  • Tone) of mind iii. 378.
  • Touch) in touching we feel an impression upon the organ of sense iii. 380.
  • Trachiniens) of Sophocles censured iii. 286.
  • Tragedy) modern tragedy censured ii. 155. French tragedy censured ii. 159. Note. ii. 194. The Greek tragedy accompanied with musical notes to ascertain the pronunciation ii. 350. Tragedy ch. 22. iii. 218. in what respect it differs from an e­pic poem iii. 218. distinguished into pathetic and moral iii. 221. its good effects iii. 223. compa­red with the epic as to the subjects proper for each iii. 225. 226. how far it may borrow from history iii. 234. rule for dividing it into acts iii. 236. double plot in it iii. 251. admits not supernatural events iii. 254. its origin iii. 270. Ancient trage­dy a continued representation without interruption iii. 271. Constitution of the modern drama iii. 273.
  • Trees) the best manner of placing them iii. 307.
  • Triangle) equilateral, its beauty i. 253.
  • [Page] Tribrachys ii. 459.
  • Trochaeus ii. 459.
  • Tropes ch. 20. iii. 53.
  • Ugliness) proper and figurative iii. 388.
  • Unbounded prospect) disagreeable i. 366. Note.
  • Uniformity) apt to disgust by excess i. 253. Uni­formity and variety ch. 9. i. 380. The melody ought to be uniform where the things described are uniform ii. 411. Uniformity defined iii. 390.
  • Unity) the three unities ch. 23. iii. 259. of action iii. 260. of time and of place iii. 267. Unities of time and place not required in an epic poem iii. 268. strictly observed in the Greek tragedy iii. 272. Unity of place in the ancient drama iii. 285. Uni­ties of place and time ought to be strictly observed in each act of a modern play iii. 291. Wherein the unity of a garden consists iii. 304.
  • Unumquodque eodem modo dissolvitur quo colligatum est i. 368.
  • Vanity) a disagreeable passion i. 134. always appears mean ii. 34.
  • Variety) distinguished from novelty i. 329. Variety ch. 9. i. 380.
  • Verbal antithesis) defined ii. 73. 268.
  • Versailles) gardens of iii. 310.
  • Verse) distinguished from prose ii. 353. Sapphic verse extremely melodious ii. 358. Iambic less so ii. 358. Structure of an hexameter line ii. 364. Structure of English heroic verse ii. 382. 384. English monosyllables arbitrary as to quantity ii. 383. English heroic lines distinguished into four sorts ii. 421. Latin hexameter compared with English [Page] rhyme ii. 441. compared with blank verse ii. 442. French heroic verse compared with hexameter and rhyme ii. 443. The English language incapable of the melody of hexameter verse ii. 446. For what subjects is rhyme proper ii. 447. &c. Melody of rhyme ii. 449. Melody of verse is so inchanting as to draw a veil over gross imperfections ii. 457. Verses composed in the shape of an axe or an egg iii. 310.
  • Violent action) ought to be excluded from the stage iii. 254.
  • Virgil) censured for want of connection i. 36. &c. his verse extremely melodious ii. 357. his versifica­tion criticised ii. 376. censured iii. 179. 194. 246.
  • Virgil travestie) characterized ii. 41.
  • Voltaire) censured iii. 178. 236. 243.
  • Vowels ii. 238.
  • Walk) in a garden, whether it ought to be straight or waving iii. 311. artificial walk elevated above the plain iii. 313.
  • Wall) that is not perpendicular occasions an uneasy feeling i. 218.
  • Water-fall i. 314.
  • Water-god) statue of, pouring out water iii. 350.
  • Way of the World) censured iii. 266. the unities of place and time strictly observed in it iii. 293.
  • Will) how far our train of perceptions can be regu­lated by it i. 23. 381. 388. determined by desire i. 222.
  • Windows) their proportions iii. 323.
  • Wish) distinguished from desire i. 55.
  • Wit) desined i. 28. seldom united with judgement i. [Page] 28. but generally with memory i. 28. not con­cordant with grandeur i. 377. Wit ch. 13. ii. 58.
  • Wonder) instantaneous i. 143. Wonders and prodi­gies find ready credit with the vulgar i. 198. Won­der i. 320. studied in Chinese gardens iii. 319.
  • Words) play of ii. 228. &c. jingle of ii. 231. what are their best arrangement in a period ii. 251. A conjunction or disjunction in the members of the thought ought to be imitated in the expression ii. 260. 265. Words expressing things connected ought to be placed as near together as possible ii. 307. &c. In what part of a sentence doth a word make the greatest figure ii. 318. Words acquire a beauty from their meaning iii. 139. The words ought to accord with the sentiment iii. 188. A word is often redoubled to add force to the expres­sion iii. 201.
  • Writing) a subject intended for amusement may be highly ornamented ii. 9. A grand subject appears best in a plain dress ii. 10.

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